ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Police Department has now clearly defined chokehold in its new use of force policy. The Fraternal Order of Police expressed concerns last week that the revised policy was too vague.
Channel 9 investigative reporter Daralene Jones found out the new wording would also prohibit situations like she first exposed in which an officer was caught on video with his knee on a man’s neck. The man could be heard yelling, “Can you get off my neck? I can’t even breathe! I got asthma,” in the officer’s body camera video.
The incident was sparked by a traffic stop, last July, over a seatbelt violation that quickly turned into a chaotic scene in Parramore. One woman was pulled from the doorway of a home, as an officer yelled, “Put your hands behind your back, right now!”
Officers were after the passenger of a car, who walked into a home after the vehicle he was riding in pulled into the driveway, because officers said he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
The incident was only exposed this month when Channel 9 got a tip about the case. The same day our investigation aired, Orlando police Chief Orlando Rolon unveiled new use of force policies, initially sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed when a former Minneapolis police officer held a knee on his neck.
The Orlando police union, which told Channel 9 it wanted a ban on the technique, also wanted a clear definition for chokehold.
New language now defines a chokehold as "any technique used to restrain an individual which restricts breathing or occludes both carotid blood vessels simultaneously." Those vessels are located on both sides of your neck and deliver blood to your brain, which is why Janet Feliciano felt helpless as she sat and watched the officer hold his knee on her son's neck.
“I’m telling them, my son, um, he can’t breathe, my son is screaming, he can’t breathe,” Feliciano said.
There was no internal investigation and Rolon told Channel 9 there was no policy violation. During the same interview Rolon insisted neck restraints aren’t apart of OPD training, but we also know that officers are trained through state run academies, and this video proves officers were using the technique.
Now, this policy change opens the door to discipline those who violate the new rules.
“Obviously, we don’t want to see a knee on someone’s neck,” Rolon said when Jones first reviewed the video showing the officer’s knee on the man’s neck.
The department also revised other sections of its use of force policy. You can find details here in the document below:
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