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Monday, July 28, 2014

Officer Take Down Using Choke Hold

Ars Technica has a video of police using a choke hold on a suspect, Eric Garner, that resulted in Garner's death. A couple points. First, if the officer was attempting a choke hold, he was doing it wrong. Instead of putting Garner's neck into the crook of his arm and applying pressure (which cuts off the carotid arteries but doesn't damage the throat), the officer used his forearm as a bar across the throat, which not only doesn't work as effectively (witness the video) but can also cause more serious harm. (The primary reason why officers aren't allowed to use a nightstick to choke someone out).

Second, ignoring the fact that he was resisting an officer but merely looking at this as an attack, Garner did a couple things wrong, beginning with the fact that he stepped away from the wall, but then stood there, thus allowing the attacker to get behind him and initiate the hold. One of the common methods for breaking a choke hold is to grab the attacker's primary arm being used to perform the choke, step back with one leg (in this case, it would have been Garner's left leg) and put it behind the attacker's (in this case, left) leg, turn, and bend/bow to throw the attacker to the ground. Obviously Garner didn't attempt to do this, but the officer was either anticipating some sort of counter or simply trying to throw Garner to the ground, and so he moved his right leg back and to the left, pivoting to throw Garner off-balance. Garner waited too long to attempt a counter. It looks like Garner may have had an opportunity to use the plate glass window (basically throw himself backward or sideways through the window with the attacker leading the way), but didn't.

This video is also a good example of why you don't want to move to ground fighting when facing multiple attackers.

From a political point of view, this video is also a good reason why legislators shouldn't have such a blase attitude about creating new crimes. Eventually, if something is made a crime, no matter how trivial, big men with guns are going to have to enforce it, which means there is the possibility of a death or injury. And, seriously, is it worth the risk of someone being killed, as happened here, to prohibit the selling of single cigarettes? This video doesn't document a problem with police, but a problem with inane laws and ordinances.

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