Missouri Senate votes to limit police use of chokeholds in crime bill

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The state capitol building in Jefferson City, Missouri. (Credit: ORLIN WAGNER/AFP via Getty Images)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Senate on Wednesday voted to limit when police can use chokeholds in a rare step by state lawmakers to take action in response to police violence.

The bill’s 31-2 bipartisan passage in the GOP-led Senate came just days before lawmakers’ Friday deadline to send legislation to Republican Gov. Mike Parson, a former sheriff.

Little has been done by the Republican Legislature since a white Ferguson police officer fatally shot unarmed Black 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014, sparking protests nationwide and putting Missouri in the center of debate over policing and Black communities.

Democratic Sen. Brian Williams, who was raised in Ferguson, this year proposed banning police use of chokeholds following another Black man’s death: Minnesota’s George Floyd. A white officer last year pressed his knee on the neck of Floyd, who was handcuffed, until Floyd stopped breathing.

The Missouri bill has since been pared back to only allow police to use chokeholds in self-defense if they or someone else are in serious danger.

Lawmakers also added a provision to end the requirement that Kansas City police live in that city, along with a lengthy list of other police- and criminal-law-related rules.

The measure needs another House vote before it can go to the governor’s desk.

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