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San Antonio City Council To Consider Complete Ban Of Chokeholds, No-Knock Warrants By SAPD

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus
Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus

A proposal to ban chokeholds and no-knock raids by San Antonio Police will be heard by the San Antonio City Council in the coming weeks. The request by District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan passed the city’s public safety committee Tuesday.

SAPD only allows chokeholds and no-knock warrants in certain circumstances — when there’s a danger to the officer or public. The chokehold — a lateral vascular neck restraint also known as LVNR — was banned by SAPD in 2014, unless deadly force is needed. No-knock warrants for arrests and searches were discontinued by SAPD two months ago but some uses of force can be used under certain circumstances. The councilwoman wants both completely rescinded.

Following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police officer, Councilwoman Andrews-Sullivan filed two council consideration requests to ban the practices of chokeholds and no-knock warrants in June. The requests each have the support of five council members.

“We are asking for this ban because not only is it a last resort, but because we need to do better with de-escalation to where we do not get to another hashtag,” Andrews-Sullivan said on Tuesday regarding chokeholds. “That is what this [request] is meant to be.”

The 2020 killings of Floyd, Breonna Taylor in Louisville during a no-knock raid, and injury of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin are the most recent examples of hashtags on social media that have led to nationwide calls for reform.

Police Chief William McManus said SAPD’s current policy on chokeholds is used in many cities in Texas and across the country. Completely removing the option of chokeholds would be an officer and public safety issue, he said.

“It would be a danger to the officer to take away any option that they might have in protecting themselves from serious bodily injury, or death or a third party,” said McManus.

SAPD ended the use of no-knock warrants in June for both searches and arrests. The chief plans to make that decision permanent in a department policies update in September. However, he added no-knock entry may still be used when exigent circumstances pose a serious safety risk to the general public or officers.

“We will not plan to do no-knock warrant services for arrest warrants,” McManus said. “We will figure out another way for each individual case depending upon the circumstances on how that warrant gets served.”

Over the last 10 years, McManus said there were about 28 complaints filed in which officers used chokeholds but that none of those complaints had been sustained by a review board. The use of no-knock warrants had gone from being used 44 times in 2017 to eight times in 2020 through the end of June.

Members of the city council’s public safety committee — which include Andrews-Sullivan, Melissa Cabello Havrda of District 6, Rebecca Viagran of District 3, Ana Sandoval of District 7 and Clayton Perry of District 10 — voted to move the requests to the full council with the exception of Perry who voted no.

Perry said what the city was doing now was working and that putting additional restrictions would handcuff officers.

“Violent crime is on the rise here in San Antonio, and I’m not willing to do that to our officers that are out on the street protecting us on a day-to-day basis,” Perry said. “So, no, I can’t support this motion.”

The full San Antonio City Council will hear the proposals in the coming weeks before potentially taking it up for a vote.

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.

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