Sep 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

California bill barring certain police holds heads to Newsom's desk

Photo of a person holding a sign that shows a depiction of George Floyd's face and the words "I can't breathe"

A demonstration over George Floyd’s death on June 3, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama via Getty Images

The California legislature on Thursday gave final approval to a bill barring certain life-threatening face-down holds that can lead to asphyxia.

Why it matters: The Angelo Quinto Act, named after the Filipino American Navy vet who died in Antioch last December after police allegedly knelt on his neck for five minutes, expands upon the chokeholds ban instituted in the state following George Floyd’s murder.

Details: The bill was introduced by Democratic Assembly member Mike Gipson, a former police officer, and bars techniques that can cause substantial risk of positional asphyxia, which occurs when someone cannot breathe due to the positioning of their body.

  • Such holds can compress people's airways, and often involve restraining suspects face down and pressing down on their backs.
  • It passed the state Assembly in a 50-15 vote on Thursday and now heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom's (D) desk.

What they're saying: Gipson tweeted "Justice for #AngeloQuinto!" after the bill passed and expressed gratitude for the Quinto family.

The other side: The bill has faced pushback from the California State Sheriffs' Association, which called the provision too broad, per AP.

Many law enforcement agencies have already restricted use of such holds, according to AP. Nevada enacted a similar ban last year.

The big picture: Asian American civil rights groups have pushed for the bill's passage for months, pressing for greater transparency and police accountability.

  • The bill also gained attention after Alameda police pinned down Mario Gonzalez for more than five minutes in April, leading to his death.
  • Such tactics became the center of renewed controversy after a veteran forensic pathologist testified during Derek Chauvin's trial that the position of Floyd's body appeared to show he could not get enough oxygen before he died, and that "there's no evidence to suggest that he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement."
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