LOS ANGELES -- The police department is dropping the use of the bar-arm control hold, one of two types of controversial choke holds used by officers to subdue violent suspects, Police Chief Daryl Gates reported today.
In an interview in the Los Angeles Times, Gates said he will recommend to the Police Commission that it no longer authorize use of the bar-arm hold, which renders people unconscious by cutting off the air supply to the lungs.
Police officers will continue using the so-called cartoid hold, in which an officer blocks the blood flow to a suspect's neck artery. Department policy now emphasizes a 'modified carotid' hold that cuts off only one artery.
'I think it's insane to suggest we cannot use that modified carotid,' the police chief said. 'It's a super hold.'
Critics of the two choke holds maintain 16 people have died since 1975 after police officers used the holds to subdue them. The city acknowledges a connection on only three or four of those cases, depending on which medical authority is consulted.
The decision to drop the bar-arm hold brings Los Angeles police in line with policy on the choke holds in other major law enforcement agencies.
Gates' decision represents the latest development in a controversy that was touched off with the April 5 death of a 20-year-old Pacoima man, James Mincey Jr., who was subdued with a carotid choke hold when arrested for speeding.
After Mincey's death, the public called for a moratorium on the use of choke holds, and Gates responded with the proposal to ban the bar-arm control hold, which will be considered Tuesday for final approval by the Police Commission.