Officer used banned neck restraint on driver who rammed Harbor Patrol vehicle, police say

Long Beach police say they’ve launched an internal affairs investigation into an officer who used a controversial stranglehold just weeks after the department told officers they must abandon the tactic.

The officer used the carotid control hold, which cuts off blood flow to the brain by putting pressure on someone’s neck, while he helped arrest a driver accused of intentionally ramming a Harbor Patrol officer’s car, according to the LBPD.

Police said this happened around 5:10 p.m. on July 2 while the Harbor Patrol officer was driving at Pico Avenue and Pier C, which is near the Port of Long Beach.

A man driving the opposite direction swerved into oncoming lanes and crashed into the officer’s car even after she stopped and honked her horn, according to Administrator Karen Owens, an LBPD spokeswoman.

After the crash, the man walked up and asked the Harbor Patrol officer if she was a police officer, to which she responded, “No, but help’s on the way,” according to Owens. Long Beach’s Harbor Patrol officers are security officers with some limited policing powers, not full-fledged peace officers.

Nobody was hurt in the crash, Owens said, but when police officers assigned to the harbor area arrived, the driver was standing in the roadway, acting agitated. When he threatened to fight officers and then ran, they grabbed him from behind and tumbled to the ground, according to police.

As they struggled on the asphalt, one officer wrapped his arm around the driver’s neck and held him in the carotid restraint for two to three seconds before the driver surrendered, Owens said.

The driver did not lose consciousness, according to police, but he was taken to a hospital as a precaution before being booked into jail on suspicion of two misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest. He was quickly released without having to post bail because of new coronavirus rules that set bail on a range of charges to $0.

When a supervisor learned an officer had used the carotid hold, Long Beach police immediately called internal affairs investigators to the scene, according to Owens.

The LBPD suspended use of the stranglehold on June 9 after nationwide backlash against it and other neck restraints following the deaths of George Floyd, Eric Garner and others at the hands of police.

Until last month, Long Beach police had praised the use of the carotid, saying it can prevent injury when used properly.

“We do not need to convince our police officers of that—many of you have successfully used the carotid restraint during your careers to safely control violent suspects and to stop dangerous encounters from turning into deadly encounters,” the union that represents LBPD officers said in an internal bulletin when the tactic was banned. “We realize that it’s the public who would need to be convinced, not our police officers. And the public has made their voices loud and clear on this issue.”

Critics have called the move barbaric and unnecessary considering all the other options available to officers.

“These actually should just be disallowed, 100%,” said Suzanne Luban, an attorney and lecturer at Stanford’s law school. She argued police don’t receive nearly enough training to use the tactic.

“They’re really only receiving scrutiny when the person has been killed,” she said. “And that’s just the luck of the draw or the bad luck of the draw because in any use of those techniques someone could die.”

It’s not clear if the officer who used the carotid knew the department had suspended its use.

Owens said LBPD officials sent email notifications about the change and told officers at in-person briefings. After the July 2 incident, however, they’re in the process of verifying that every officer in an enforcement role knows about the change.

Prosecutors so far haven’t filed charges against the man accused of ramming the Harbor Patrol officer, but Owens said he is expected to be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving, battery, driving with a suspended license and two felony counts of resisting arrest. Police identified him as Bryant Jamar Glover, a 21-year-old from Los Angeles.

Public records show Glover worked as a security guard, but his license was revoked when he was convicted of illegally carrying a loaded firearm last year.

Glover is also facing charges of burglary and grand theft of a firearm in San Bernardino County where he’s pleaded not guilty and failed to show up to court after bailing out of jail, according to court records.

Glover did not respond to messages left at phone numbers connected to his home address.

Police declined to identify the officer accused of using the carotid hold, saying the investigation is still pending.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.
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