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Staten Island DA blasts new 'diaphragm law,' opening door to decline prosecutions

Ex-Rep. McMahon wins Staten Island prosecutor race after chokehold case
Posted at 3:52 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 15:52:21-04

STATEN ISLAND — Staten Island DA Michael McMahon blasted the new "diaphragm law" recently passed in New York City that restricts certain maneuvers for use by officers making arrests, saying Friday it'd be hard to foresee prosecuting an officer under the law.

The law established a misdemeanor for officers "restraining an individual in a manner that restricts the flow of air or blood by compressing the windpipe or the carotid arteries on each side of the neck, or sitting, kneeling, or standing on the chest or back in a manner that compresses the diaphragm, in the course of effecting or attempting to effect an arrest."

The use of the language surrounding the diaphragm has been controversial; McMahon called the drafting of the bill "reckless."

"There are several other more significant and meaningful felony charges...that would be more appropriate to apply in any and all of those situations," McMahon said in a statement Friday. "In fact, it is hard for me to imagine a case where an officer making a lawful arrest should be charged with the diaphragm contact section of the city law."

McMahon's statement comes a day after NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said cops shouldn't be afraid to do their jobs even under new laws, and that every DA has said "they're not going to charge that," speaking of new city laws, according to reports in both the New York Post and New York Daily News.

McMahon said he won't "unilaterally refuse to prosecute certain crimes" as DA, but also said the "diaphragm law" "defies common sense" and puts officers' lives at risk.

While McMahon said he doesn't believe it's his job to decide what is and is not a crime, he did say his role is to "evaluate each case on an individual basis, examine the facts and evidence available, consider the circumstances, and apply the law to achieve the most just result."

That seemingly opens the door for the Staten Island DA to potentially forgo prosecuting officers under the new law.

Unlike the city's law, McMahon said he supports the state's legislation that banned the use of chokeholds by police officers.