Should knee to the neck maneuver be banned for police?

Minneapolis Police
Photo credit © Dave Schwarz,, St. Cloud Times via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Yesterday's death of George Floyd after a knee to the neck maneuver by Minneapolis Police has raised the question about whether that's a standard procedure for police officers around America. Videos have floated around the internet of police being trained in this procedure and touting its benefits.

Notably, one video shows the Durham Police Department using this maneuver to restrain a teenager from June of 2019. 

Use of force expert Steve Rogers joined "Hey, It's Cory Hepola" to discuss the knee to neck procedure. Rogers, a 24-year EMT and certified instructor in control combative arrests, says that this procedure should not be used. 

"That is not allowed. We do not do that. It is nothing but liability. You're probably going to kill somebody. It's medically a bad idea. You're going to cut off carotid blood flow, you can cut off oxygen. You could, in theory, damaged the spine. There are certain things you just don't do and this is on that list."

Seth Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina Law School and author of the book Evaluating Police Uses of Force, told FOX 9 in Minneapolis that the maneuver was “Horrific. Unnecessary. Totally avoidable.” He added “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen officers maintain position for four minutes after he’s rendered unconscious. That is mind-boggling.”

Is it taught in police circles? Maria Haberfeld, a former sergeant with the Israel Defense Forces, said she has “never seen” a restraining technique like this in all her years of studying, teaching, and writing about use of force by police departments in the US and abroad.

Haberfeld, who has extensively studied police training tactics in the US and teaches officers on the ethics of using force, told Buzzfeed there are some legitimate takedown techniques that involve applying pressure around somebody’s neck. But it doesn't look like what everyone saw in the video -- A cop with his knee on the victim's neck for at least seven minutes while be begged for help and said he couldn't breathe.

“But the more I’m seeing [this video>, he is crushing [Floyd’s> neck,” she said. “As far as I know, that is not a legitimate training tactic in 2020.”