June 1, 2020, 4:00 AM CDT
By Emily R. Siegel, Andrew W. Lehren and Andrew Blankstein


Since the beginning of 2015, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department have rendered people unconscious with neck restraints 44 times, according to an NBC News analysis of police records. Several police experts said that number appears to be unusually high.

Minneapolis police used neck restraints at least 237 times during that span, and in 16 percent of the incidents the suspects and other individuals lost consciousness, the department's use-of-force records show. A lack of publicly available use-of-force data from other departments makes it difficult to compare Minneapolis to other cities of the same or any size.


Police define neck restraints as when an officer uses an arm or leg to compress someone's neck without directly pressuring the airway. On May 25, Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was captured on video kneeling on the neck of a prone and handcuffed George Floyd for eight minutes — including nearly three minutes after he had stopped breathing.


Chauvin was charged Friday with 3rd degree murder and manslaughter for Floyd's death.

More than a dozen police officials and law enforcement experts told NBC News that the particular tactic Chauvin used — kneeling on a suspect's neck — is neither taught nor sanctioned by any police agency. A Minneapolis city official told NBC News Chauvin's tactic is not permitted by the Minneapolis police department. For most major police departments, variations of neck restraints, known as chokeholds, are highly restricted — if not banned outright.

Minneapolis police data shows that in the bulk of use-of-force cases involving neck restraints when an individual lost consciousness, the restraint was used after a suspect fled on foot or tensed up as they were being taken into custody. Almost half of the people who lost consciousness were injured, according to the reports, which do not spell out the severity of those injuries.

Five of the cases involved assaults on officers, while several others involved domestic abuse or domestic assault cases. In most cases, there was no apparent underlying violent offense.

Watch a minute-to-minute breakdown leading up to George Floyd's deadly arrestMAY 28, 202003:57

One was a 14-year-old in a domestic abuse incident that was in progress when the officer arrived. Another was a 17-year-old fleeing from a shoplifting incident. Another involved a traffic stop where the suspect was deemed "verbally non-compliant."


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