After days of protests over racial injustice triggered by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday said state lawmakers were set to enact a criminal justice overhaul that could become a model for the United States.
Cuomo said he and legislative leaders reached agreement over the weekend on a package of bills designed to curb police abuses, including one banning officers from using the so-called chokehold on suspects.
“If they pass the bills that we’ve discussed, I will sign the bills, and I will sign them as soon as they’re passed,” Cuomo told a regular news briefing.
Calls for a chokehold ban have echoed in recent rallies and have grown louder since 2014, when a New York City policeman applied it to Eric Garner, a black suspect who pleaded “I can’t breathe” before dying.
Floyd — who was also black, died on a Minneapolis street on May 25 after a policeman’s knee pressed on his neck for nearly nine minutes — uttered the identical plea before becoming unresponsive.
The demands of the thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets in cities nationwide have included curbs on policing to prevent racial injustice as well as an ill-defined call to “defund the police.”
The proposed New York policing overhaul also includes making officers’ disciplinary records publicly available, as those of other government employees are, Cuomo said.
“New York state will take this legislative action, and I hope it then becomes a model for other states to follow,” he said.
The legislation also would put into law Cuomo’s five-year-old order requiring that police killings of unarmed people be investigated by the state attorney general, instead of a local district attorney, and would outlaw false reports made to emergency police call centers based on race, he said.