Amid global outrage over the death of George Floyd, an African American, in police custody, US President Donald Trump has said the controversial chokehold method for restraining some suspects should “generally” be banned, however, adding that it may be needed in dangerous situations.
“If a police officer is in a bad scuffle and he’s got somebody… you have to be careful,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News that aired Friday.
Trump said “the concept of chokeholds sounds so innocent, so perfect.”
However, banning such chokeholds — a major demand of protesters around the country outraged by the death in police custody of George Floyd after an officer kneeled on his neck — would be good, “generally speaking,” Trump said.
He said he might make “very strong recommendations” to local authorities.
Some US police forces have moved to ban chokeholds since the outbreak of anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old man, died in Minneapolis on May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, held him down with a knee on his neck although he repeatedly pleaded, “I can’t breathe”, and “please, I can’t breathe”.
All four police officers involved in the incident have been fired, and Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Donald Trump — who has faced criticism for his responses to the outbreak of the protests against racism and police brutality — said he wanted to “see really compassionate but strong law enforcement”, adding “toughness is sometimes the most compassionate”.
Challenged by interviewer Harris Faulkner to explain his tweet last month that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, which was censored by Twitter for glorifying violence, the president said: “When the looting starts, it oftentimes means there’s going to be… sure, there’s going to be death, there’s going to be killing. And, it’s a bad thing.”
Last week, Trump deployed thousands of “heavily armed” soldiers and police to prevent further protests in Washington, where buildings and monuments have been vandalized near the White House.
Meanwhile, the Justice in Policing Act was proposed by the opposition Democrats who control the House of Representatives but in order to pass it must win the support of Trump’s Republicans who control the Senate.
Meanwhile, the governor of New York has ordered police departments to undertake major reforms, in response to the demonstrations.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would stop financing local authorities that failed to adopt reforms addressing excess use of force and bias in their police departments by next April.
He said he would sign an executive order for municipalities to “reinvent and modernize” their police departments to battle racism. Police disciplinary records would be publicly released and chokeholds would become a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
George Floyd’s death saw tens of thousands of outraged protesters from Sydney to London rallying against racism and police brutality.