NEW YORK - Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon says in certain cases he will not prosecute officers under the city's new chokehold law.
The announcement comes after video surfaced of NYPD Chief Terrence Monahan telling other high ranking officers that narcotics detectives have to stop being afraid of making arrests.
"What happens to afraid cops is they end up dead and that's what happened. That's why there's so many guns out there. We can't be afraid. You got every DA come out and say they're not going to charge that. We can't be afraid to do what we do. We can't walk away," Monahan said in a video first published by the New York Post.
Monahan was responding to a deputy who said officers are concerned about their knees accidentally ending up on a suspect's back during an arrest.
Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed a bill into law that makes the tactic illegal.
The Staten Island DA said he would not unilaterally rule out charging officers for breaking the new law, but added, "Our office would not prosecute a police officer who accidentally pressed on an individual’s diaphragm in the course of making a lawful arrest.”
DA McMahon said city elected officials need to change the law.
“I know that our City Council legislators passed this bill and the mayor signed it into law to seize upon and make a relevant mark on a poignant and important moment in social justice history," McMahon said in a statement. "Their intentions may be good, but the outcome and details leave much to be desired. I implore them to be leaders enough to admit that they went too far in their language and to repeal or fix this law as soon as possible. Common sense requires it, public safety depends on it.”
The Legal Aid Society criticized McMahon.
“Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon has a clear bias problem," the organization said in a statement. "When it comes to prosecuting Black and Latinx New Yorkers, even with weak or false evidence, his office is quick to bring charges, demand exorbitant bail and force guilty pleas. But when it comes to holding police officers accountable for committing heinous acts of misconduct, the NYPD can count on DA McMahon for special treatment.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance previously told NY1 it would be hard to prosecute cops under the city law and that there was already a new state law making chokeholds illegal