'Weapon of last resort': Physical restraint trainer says police need more training

"If you hold the choke excessively, it could cause permanent brain damage or death," said officer who trains thousands of others.


In the wake of George Floyd's death and the massive protests against police brutality that followed, some police departments are reevaluating the use of chokeholds.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that seeks to prohibit them unless there's a life-or-death situation.

National Investigative Unit Correspondent Mark Albert took a look at how a chokehold works and why some think it should be banned.

Amir Khillah, CEO of Centurion Modern Subject Control and a police officer in Michigan who trains thousands of his fellow officers on restraints, described the technique's repercussions.

"It's a weapon of last resort," he said. "If you hold the choke excessively, it could cause permanent brain damage or death."

He tells his officers not to use it in the normal course of their duties unless they're at risk of death.

The vascular neck restraint puts pressure on the carotid arteries, reducing blood flow to the brain.

If not done correctly, experts say, the maneuver could damage the spine, injure the soft tissue in the neck or could collapse the airway.

Last week, Democrats in Congress unveiled a sweeping police reform bill that would prohibit chokeholds.

And they got some surprising support — from the top Republican in the House.

"The idea of someone that would have a chokehold when somebody is handcuffed or others?" House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said. "There should be severe consequences."

A recent Reuters poll found an overwhelming 82 percent of Americans support a ban on chokeholds.

Khillah, the restraint instructor, thinks ongoing physical response training for each officer would reduce injuries from any use of force — including chokeholds.

"That seems to be the default go to because of lack of options for officers, and that is due to very, very limited and insufficient training for law enforcement across across the board," he said. "We have to mandate more training for officers and it has to be ongoing."

Use of force experts say you should not try to use any type of neck restraint without professional training and supervision.

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