Suffocation/suppression death by police officers is never allowed by any law. And it is always a violation of the civil rights in the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.
While it is not a common occurrence, it has happened about 70 times, and is so outrageous and appalling that it can never permitted. Consider a few cases.
Eric Garner, suffocated by choke hold of a police officer while selling cigarettes on a street in New York City, NY, 2015. "I Can't Breathe!"
Tony Timpa, suffocated by a police officer in Dallas, TX after he called 911 for help, 2016. "Help Me!"
Carlos Ingram Lopez, suffocated by police officers in his grandmother’s garage, Tucson, AZ, April 2020. "Nana!"
George Floyd, suffocated by police officers on a street in Minneapolis, MN, May 2020. "I Can't Breathe!"
Angelo Quinto, ripped from his mother's embrace in her home, thrown down and brutally killed by officers right in front of her in Antioch, CA, Dec 2020. "Please don't kill me!"
Search the videos. Be aware: the content is disturbing.
As a point of reference, usually more than 1,000 citizens die at the hands of police officers each year from all means, and most are armed or are committing crime and deadly force is required to protect the community. Also note that 700,000+ police officers make over 10,000,000 arrests each year. So this is not common, but it is an extremely appalling civil rights violation and nobody wants to imagine it happening to them or to someone they know.
4th Amendment to the Constitution:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons…shall not be violated.”
The only point of suppression/suffocation is to stop a person from breathing.
The only reason to stop a person from breathing is to inflict death. The outcome is known.
It requires the suffocator to be in a position of authority, power, and in physical control of the person being suffocated for an extended period of time, so death is no accident or sudden "oops".
Officers may not claim suppression/suffocation death was an attempt to force a person to be “calm”. That is epic dishonesty. Even without a conscious thought, the body will instinctively buck off a suffocating force. Calm only happens at death.
Officers without a medical degree cannot claim that they are qualified to manage the fine line between life and death, so officers must never threaten death in this way.
And officers without a medical degree cannot claim that they have the ability to revive a patient who has died, nor can officers restore brain damage or other injuries, so they must never even get close to inflicting such a horrible, slow, tortuous, helpless, purposeful and intentional death.
Suppression/suffocation is NEVER lawful police work. It is ALWAYS murder, first degree: it is always premeditated, intentional, a decision by an officer at a scene using the officer's free will, it takes quite some time, and has a known and expected result. It doesn’t matter if the suffocation was inflicted by choking, force on the lungs or by putting a bag of any sort over a person’s head. Restricting a citizen's breathing is suffocation, and suffocation leads to death.
There are always lawful ways to accomplish what an officer should do to “protect and serve” the public that do not involve intentional murder or the ultimate violation of civil rights.
Observe that in today's world there is video of these types of events. In decades past there was only testimony by the surviving officer, and everyone knows how those cases played out. Video either affirms the lawful conduct of officers, or it helps citizens find justice, and that is why video has become the new star witness to Fourth Amendment violations. This witness cannot be contradicted. It helps us all -- citizens, police, prosecutors and courts -- strive for improvement.
Failure in our courts makes our streets unsafe.
No court can ever justify denying proper judgment for violations of the civil rights of citizens in a suffocation murder by police officers.
Suppression/suffocation death by officers is always a decision made by an officer using his/her free will at a scene.
If courts were honest about what everyone can plainly see in video, and the officer who murdered Eric Garner was convicted in court of murder (not absolved of liability because a judge claimed he had "qualified immunity" to commit murder) then Tony Timpa, Carlos Lopez, George Floyd and Angelo Quinto and all of the about 70 others who were suffocated by police officers after Mr. Garner would still be alive. Indeed.
* Special note to civil rights attorneys, regarding every death of a citizen by police officer suffocation:
- Training academies that teach officers to suffocate citizens must be named as co-conspirators.
- Trainers and supervisors on any police force that train officers to inflict suffocation must be named as co-conspirators.
- Those who manufacture and sell and purchase "spit hoods" must be named as co-conspirators in deaths where those are used. Everyone knows you don’t let children play with plastic bags, and you don’t put bags near cribs due to the risk of suffocation. Why would any adult think putting any kind of bag over the head of a citizen who is restrained and already traumatized from interaction with officers is any way to "protect and serve"...?!
Name the co-conspirators in the civil rights lawsuits.
Citizens must be able to safely travel on our streets. Courts are the protectors of our civil rights.
"A violation is a violation, and when rights are violated restitution is due."
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons…shall not be violated...”
- Fourth Amendment, US Constitution