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LA Supes Back Statewide Ban On Controversial 'Sleeper Holds'

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. (L.A. Sheriff's Department)
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The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to support a statewide ban on a controversial neck hold used by police.

Governor Newsom first proposed the ban on carotid holds last weekend amid protests over the killing of George Floyd. The state legislature could vote a ban later this year.

The technique involves an officer pressing his arm on one or both sides of a person’s neck to restrict blood flow to the brain. Also known as a "sleeper hold," it can almost immediately render someone unconscious, and can cause serious injury or even death if the flow of blood is restricted for too long.

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It’s not what happened to George Floyd, but his killing has brought the tactic under renewed scrutiny.

On Monday, L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted that, from now on, deputies can only use the carotid hold if a suspect’s actions “rise to the level of deadly force." Previously, a suspect merely needed to be "assaultive or high risk."

Meanwhile, other local agencies are suspending use of the carotid hold. On Tuesday, the Orange County Sheriff's Department said it's suspending use of the technique to evaluate its "effectiveness as a compliance tool." On Monday, the LAPD suspended the use of carotid restraints pending further review by the Police Commission. And Pasadena Police Chief John Perez on Sunday suspended the carotid restraint, saying use-of-force experts will explore alternative techniques “for encounters involving dangerous and violent suspects.”

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