COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio representatives filed legislation Friday that would criminalize the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers in Ohio.
State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) filed the legislation, which is modeled after the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act which passed the New York State Assembly this month with bipartisan support.
The legislation would ban any law enforcement officers from knowingly causing serious physical harm by using pressure to the throat or neck, or by blocking the nose or mouth.
Officers who violate the chokehold ban would be charged with strangulation and would be subject to a third-degree felony, state reps said.
“A chokehold is a maneuver which has shown time and time again to have lethal consequences. All too often it has become a death sentence for citizens who have not even received due process of law,” said Galonski. “Law enforcement professionals are able to restrain a suspect without using potentially lethal means. That is how we ensure proper service, protection, and due process of law.”
Lepore-Hagan said that the legislation would provide much-needed accountability for law enforcement officers across the state.
“Chokeholds can cause serious injury or even death. The NYPD ban on chokeholds didn’t prevent the death of Eric Garner. We cannot leave this up to cities and individual departments anymore. The state must act,” said Lepore-Hagan. “We need greater law enforcement accountability in Ohio.”
The legislation, which was filed with 22 joint sponsors, will receive an official bill number during the next nonvoting legislative session.