Las Vegas Sun

August 25, 2019

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Restraint hold has proved deadly in past for Metro, other departments

The neck restraint used by Metro Police officers that preceded a man's death Sunday morning is a widely accepted technique used by law enforcement across the country, but it has been involved in numerous deaths of people in police custody — including Eric Garner in New York.

Dubbed the “lateral vascular neck restraint” (LVNR) the hold is not considered a choke because it impacts the circulatory system while leaving the airway unobstructed and protected during the maneuver.

The move compresses carotid arteries and/or the jugular veins to cut off circulation of blood to the brain, rendering a suspect unconscious in seconds.

The technique was introduced in 1970 by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department in 1970, and it has a history here in Las Vegas.

The family of Charles Bush settled with Metro for $1.1 million after Bush died in 1991. Bush, 39, was killed by an officer using a hold not been sanctioned at the time by the police department. Metro began training the LVNR to its officers shortly after.

The family of French citizen Philippe LeMenn, who died in 2001 while being restrained while in the Clark County Detention Center, settled with Metro for $500,000 in 2003.

In 2009 there were two deaths within four days of each other at the hands of Metro officers. Dustin Boone died after officers applied the LVNR and his family was paid $1.9 million by Metro. Four days earlier Daniel Morantes died as the result of a struggle with police but the LVNR was not applied during that case.

Los Angeles police discontinued the technique after multiple deaths in the 1980s but has since resumed training it. Seattle police began training the technique again in 2014 after a 10-year hiatus, but it classifies the LVNR as a form of lethal force similar to the use of a firearm.

The most publicized case involving police officer’s use of the hold came in 2014 when Garner was killed by members of the New York City Police Department. Garner was filmed by a bystander being choked by officers and died about an hour later at a hospital. The coroner’s office attributed Garner's death to a combination of a chokehold, compression of his chest, and poor health. His family received an out-of-court settlement of $5.9 million.

There are more than 500 police departments in the U.S. that utilize the technique. If used correctly the neck restraint shouldn’t cause serious or permanent injury to the suspect, but that’s easier said than done.

In most cases where a suspect died from a chokehold by police, there were other contributing factors. In the 2009 case of Boone, social worker advised police that he had taken numerous unknown medications throughout the day and had possibly turned on gas valves inside the home prior to the altercation with police.

According to Randy Montandon, a Metro captain at the time, both men who died after struggles with officers in 2009 had underlying medical conditions and were overweight.

During Sunday morning’s incident on the Strip, the who died had just led officers on a foot pursuit and was tazed prior to the restraint hold being applied,according to police.

The Clark County coroner’s office has yet to release an official cause of death.

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