Las Vegas police have decided to put an end to the routine use of neck restraints, revamping their use-of-force policies following the death of an unarmed black man who had been put in the controversial restraint.
According to the Associated Press, the technique, which renders people unconscious and is taught in the department, has been used some 632 times over the past decade. However, it was the death of Tashii Brown back in May that brought the policy under intense scrutiny.
Despite the relevance of Brown’s case, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo referenced the move as part of ongoing efforts to improve police tactics, not a result of Brown’s death or the lawsuits or charges that the officer involved faces.
“It would be ethically irresponsible not to constantly evaluate and upgrade when possible,” Lombardo said.
The revised use-of-force policy, which went into effect earlier this month on Sept. 15, still allows the officers to use the department-taught technique, but its classification has been upgraded from “low-level use of force” to “intermediate” or “lethal” force, meaning that officers will now have to prove to their superiors that whoever the choke hold was used on intended to hurt the officers or others.
Brown—who also went by the name Tashii Farmer—died after Officer Kenneth Lopera used what authorities called an unapproved choke hold to “subdue” him.
Brown, who was seen sweating and looking panicked in footage prior to his death, took off on foot, leading to a chase through the Venetian Las Vegas resort and casino.
Lopera eventually caught up with Brown outside the hotel and, allegedly thinking that Brown was going to attempt to carjack a vehicle, grabbed his Taser, deploying the weapon and shocking Brown multiple times even as Brown pleaded with the officer. In total, Lopera shocked Brown with the Taser seven times.
The two men then reportedly scuffled as Lopera attempted to cuff Brown. Lopera was also seen on the video punching Brown in the head and neck multiple times as Venetian security guards joined in the efforts to restrain him.
Ultimately, Lopera put Brown in a hold that he was heard describing as a “rear naked choke.” Officers soon realized that Brown was not breathing and started chest compressions, but it was too late. Brown was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
A coroner determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation due to the neck restraint.
Lopera is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and oppression under color of authority in the death.
Officials readily acknowledged that Lopera violated department policies by using his stun gun multiple times, repeatedly punching Brown and then restraining him for more than a minute.
Brown’s mother, Trinita Farmer, argued that police should never be given the leeway to choke someone, AP notes.
“I don’t think police should have their hands around your neck,” Farmer said. “They have guns. Why should you choke somebody to death?”
Andre Lagomarsino, a lawyer representing Farmer, said that a federal wrongful death lawsuit is in the works.
Read more at Fox News.