Lawmakers respond to protests with bills


The Assembly has passed a series of bills in the wake of worldwide protests against police brutality it believes will help provide better balance between law enforcement, and the community it serves.

The bills — if they become law — would require any police officer to log a report anytime he is compelled to discharge a firearm. It also prohibits officers from grabbing suspects by the neck in chokeholds, similar to what is believed to have killed Eric Garner in 2014. Finally, the Assembly is pushing to ensure anyone who wishes to record law enforcement activity with devices such as smartphones can do so.

“Almost six years ago, we heard Eric Garner tell police, ‘I can’t breathe,’ as he was put into a chokehold by an NYPD officer,” said Brooklyn Assemblyman Walter Mosely, in a release. “His words now speak from the grave as we deal with the police killing of George Floyd under nearly identical circumstances.

“Hundreds of unarmed black men and women have been killed at the hands of police officers before and between these two tragedies.”

Under the new bill, an officer accused of using a chokehold could be charged with aggravated strangulation, a felony.

The chokehold bill also passed the senate on Monday.

Under the weapons discharge bill — which does not have a companion bill in the senate — any officer who fires his weapon where it could have struck a person, must report that incident to their supervisor within six hours, and file a written report within 48. That includes any discharges made off-duty.

Being allowed to record police activity would be added to the state’s civil rights law, if signed by the governor.

It gives the right for anyone who is not under arrest or in law enforcement custody to record police officers in action. If an officer stops the recording, or takes action that forces someone to stop, that person can sue the officer in civil court for damages, including punitive damages.

Such filming has become commonplace as a way to document how law enforcement treats suspects, whether it’s to prove wrongdoing, or even to help prove a police officer is innocent of an accusation.