NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A bill limiting the use of chokeholds from police officers cleared the Senate with unanimous support a day before a Minnesota jury returned a guilty verdict for the murder of George Floyd.
Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of the murder of George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes, sparked a nationwide cry to ban or restrict the use of chokeholds.
“We appreciate law enforcement; when things go wrong they’re the first people that we call,” Nashville Senator Brenda Gilmore said. “On the other hand, we expect them to act honorably and when they do not, they will be held accountable.”
Lawmakers say the bill will place more accountability on officers when it comes to the use of deadly force by chokehold.
“There are some officers that go above that line of decency, so I think this particular piece of legislation will hold them accountable,” Gimore, a Democrat said.
The bill instructs that officers have a “duty to intervene” if they see or have knowledge of excessive force being used.
The bill also bans “no knock” warrants and will require choke hold reports be made similar to when officers are involved in shootings.
The law will also mandate de-escalation training for all law enforcement officials.
“No one should end up dead because they were stopped for a nonviolent, just a moving violation and in many instances across this country that has happened,” Gilmore said.
Republican Senator Mike Bell, who led the charge to pass the bill, did not respond to request for an interview.
However, during debate on the senate floor, Bell acknowledged the bill does not do away completely with choke holds.
“Section 1 prohibits chokeholds unless an officer reasonably believes that deadly force is authorized and that would be the same reasonable belief that deadly force could be authorized in any situation,” Bell said.
Rep. Gilmore added the bill does not do everything necessary to stop deaths in the hands of police, but is a step in the right direction.
“We’re going to be sending a strong message to law enforcement across this country and Tennessee that you’re not above the law; you’re expected to observe the laws as every individual and that black lives do matter,” Gilmore said.
The bill will immediately become law if passed by the House and signed by Governor Bill Lee.
Law enforcement agencies will have to establish the new rules and trainings by the start of 2022.