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Restraining order would ban police chokeholds, restrict 'crowd control weapons'

Just a guess, but we doubt this use of pepper spray was authorized by the chief of police.

Just a guess, but we doubt this use of pepper spray was authorized by the chief of police. Twitter/Jennifer Brooks

The Minneapolis City Council is set to vote this afternoon on a temporary restraining order that would prohibit Minneapolis police officers from using chokeholds of any kind, including the one that killed George Floyd last week.

The restraining order, filed by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights as part of its civil rights and discrimination investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, would also impose a "duty to intervene," meaning cops who see another officer using "any chokehold or neck restraint" must step in to stop it using "verbal and physical means."

Any officer who does not step in would "be subject to discipline to the same severity as if they themselves engaged in the prohibited use of force."

According to an NBC News report earlier this week, department use-of-force records indicate Minneapolis police have used a "neck restraint" 237 times since 2015, and choked someone unconscious 44 times. Of those fully choked out, 60 percent were Black. 

The November 2015 police killing of Jamar Clark started when officer Mark Ringgenberg took Clark to the ground in a chokehold; Ringgenberg's partner Dustin Schwarze shot and killed Clark in the ensuing struggle. Neither officer was charged with a crime in that case.

Since-fired MPD officer Derek Chauvin is facing second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd's neck, and the three other cops at the scene have each been charged with two counts of aiding and abetting.

The order, which council president Lisa Bender says was arrived at "with input from the City," would also require cops to report any fellow officer's "unauthorized use of force" to a superior. Said reporting must take place by radio or phone, and "immediately" --  meaning "while still on the scene."

Another section of the order addresses the use of less-lethal force to disperse crowds, which MPD and other law enforcement agencies did routinely throughout protests of Floyd's death. (To date, those uses have resulted in two lawsuits.) Under the order, "crowd control weapons" such as "chemical agents, rubber bullets, flash-bangs, batons, and marking rounds" could only be deployed with the approval of the police chief or an assigned deputy. 

Lastly, the order would impose requirements on the chief issuing decisions based on findings by the Office of Police Conduct Review; currently pending recommendations must be ruled on within 45 days, and any filed after the order goes into effect would be ruled on within 30 days.

The restraining order would go into effect 10 days after the still-required approval from a judge in the case; as filed for Friday afternoon's council hearing, the Human Rights Department's action does not have a case number or judge assigned.