A video going viral on Facebook shows a Camden police officer wrapping his arms around the neck of a student from behind before lifting his feet off the ground and holding him there for almost ten seconds.
The video does not show the student resisting but the video is only 23 seconds long and does not show what led up to the incident. It also shows the cop is nearly twice the size of the student.
More importantly, it calls into question the legality of the chokehold and serves as another example of the school to prison pipeline which is criminalizing students for actions that used to be punishable by a detention.
According to this self-defense tutorial, there are two types of chokeholds; the air choke and the blood choke which are demonstrated in the photo below.
The air choke, pictured left, is viewed as the most dangerous because it requires the officer to apply direct pressure to the front of the neck which can easily crush his windpipe and lead to death. It is banned by many departments across the U.S. The blood choke, on the other hand, requires the officer to position their forearm to apply pressure to both sides of the neck which does not constrict breathing as much as the former.
The two chokeholds are further broken down by retired cop Michael Schlosser on Police Mag:
The air choke is performed when an officer’s forearm places pressure on the front of an assailant’s neck/throat area, and it is also known as the tracheal choke, true choke, wind choke, and push choke. The purpose of the choke is to restrict air to the arrestee, and as such if the procedure is applied for a certain length of time, death can ensue. Another risk is that this choke can inflict damage on the upper airway, including the trachea, larynx, and hyoid bone, which can also result in the death of the assailant.
In Tennessee v. Garner the U.S. Supreme Court held that under the Fourth Amendment, police officers need to have probable cause to believe there is an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to the officer or someone else to justify the use of deadly force. As a result, I would recommend that this choke only be used against a deadly force assailant. A deadly force assailant can be defined as one whose actions are likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the officer or someone else.
A blood choke involves the use of an officer’s arm to apply pressure to one or both sides of an assailant’s neck. This choke involves compressing the arteries and/or the jugular veins, which restricts blood flow and thus oxygen to the brain. Other names for the blood choke include rear naked choke, vascular neck restraint, lateral vascular neck restraint, bilateral carotid compression, strangle hold, and sleeper hold.
During a blood choke, the front of the assailant’s neck is left open for breathing, and the technique is therefore distinct from the air choke. Officers can learn to apply this technique safely through proper training that teaches them to position themselves behind the assailant, leading to very little risk to the arrestee. The most likely consequences of the blood choke include an assailant’s immediate compliance or loss of consciousness. Recognizing the sudden onset of the latter is important, as despite being unconscious the assailant could still be moving with eyes open, or could be rigid. Once the blood choke is terminated, consciousness usually returns within 5-20 seconds. Many experts argue that this technique is less injurious than a knockout punch. There is very little strength required to apply this technique, making it a useful tool for an officer who is smaller or weaker than the assailant.
The blood choke is recommended for active resisters and aggressive assailants, but as with all techniques and tactics, the officer must use reasonable force as specified by Graham v. Connor. In Graham, the Supreme Court ruled use of force by a police officer is based on an objective reasonableness standard, the totality of the circumstances, and the officer’s perception at that moment. The Court ruled that officers cannot be judged using hindsight because officers often have to make split-second decisions.
The cop in the video appears to be applying the air choke on the student but we’ll let you be the judge on that. He also appears to be wearing a body camera so if he was in the right, they should be releasing that video as soon as possible.
Watch the original video here which was posted earlier today and states the incident took place at Camden Fairview High School.
Below is a video demonstrating both chokeholds.
UPDATE: Camden Police Chief Boyd M. Woody issued a statement identifying the cop as Jake Perry who is a school resource officer. The chief says the officer has been “relieved of duty pending an investigation.”
UPDATE II: Camden police officer Jake Perry was trying to keep two students from fighting who had been squaring off, according to the Camden News. Chief Woody confirmed the officer was wearing a body camera but says he has not viewed it yet.