By Juan Soto
City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) said Mayor Bill de Blasio’s threat to veto his bill outlawing the use of chokeholds by police officers does not come as a surprise.
“Using the word “veto” does not add much to what we already know,” the lawmaker said. “We have known for a long time that he [de Blasio] does not support the bill as it is written and we will address his concerns.”
Lancman noted that he intends to “have a conversation” with de Blasio. He promised to draft a bill “the mayor will be happy to sign.”
The lawmaker pointed out the proposed legislation before any revisions now has the support of 29 of the 51 Council members in the city.
“The mayor would veto the chokehold bill as is currently drafted were it to reach his desk,” a spokesman for de Blasio said.
The talk with the mayor will come after the Council schedules a hearing on the bill.
“The date is not set up because we have at the Council a wide variety of police reform bills,” Lancman said.
The mayor’s veto intentions came just a day after the inspector general for the NYPD Monday released its first report in which he found that officers used the Patrol Guide banned chokehold “as a first act of physical force” in response to verbal resistance.
According to the 45-page report, the Police Department also ignored discipline recommendations made by the Civilian Complaint Review Board in the cases studied in the investigation.
The report by the police inspector, Philip Eure, examined 10 cases between 2009 and 2014 where police officers confronted civilians. The office of the inspector is part of the city Department of Investigation agency headed by Mark Peters.
“Our investigation raised pressing issues regarding police discipline and the use of force that require our attention,” Peters said.
The report comes months after the police chokehold was used on Eric Garner, the Staten Island resident killed in a confrontation with the police during his arrest for a minor offense.
“After the tragic death of Eric Garner, and intense scrutiny of chokeholds, [the inspector general’s office] conducted a deep-dive into cases involving the prohibited tactic to explore and demystify how these complaints are addressed internally,” Eure said. “Our targeted analysis revealed troubling deficiencies from the top-down that must be rectified.”
In one of the cases reviewed in the report, a Queens man said he was walking his bicycle with a friend on the sidewalk when two plainclothes cops stopped them. Without warning, according to a complaint, one of the officers attempted to frisk him. He resisted the frisk and one of the cops tried to take him down. As they struggled, the officer placed the complainant in a chokehold.
The report noted the CCRB, an independent investigative agency, substantiated the complaint from the borough resident but the officer was found not guilty.
The inspector general’s office was created by the City Council despite opposition by the Bloomberg administration.
De Blasio said the cases reviewed had not occurred under his tenure.
But he noted the report “raises a question about how to create consistency in whatever process is undertaken once a complaint is filed.”
The mayor said he did not want to “overstate the scope of the report because I think a lot of changes are occurring,” including the retraining of the police force and a reduction in the numbers of complaints to the CCRB.
“I think the report will be another part of the discussion in this city, but I believe, from what I’ve seen so far, it refers to things that have already begun to change,” he said.
Police Commissioner William Bratton pointed out the investigation analyzed 10 cases, but agreed with some of the recommendations.
Bratton defended his predecessor, Ray Kelly, who was the commissioner when most of the police encounters occurred.
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.