It’s a matter of human rights. It’s a matter of civil rights. Now, more than ever, it’s a matter of public knowledge. Police brutality has always occurred, but because of George Floyd, in 2020, police suffocation has become just one of many horrendous crimes that’s an issue to more people than ever before. The act of suffocation and asphyxiation is difficult to even think about, yet it’s these cases that open our eyes to what happens when there is an abuse of power.

Cases of Suffocation by Police

Just before the Covid pandemic, in August of 2019, Elijah McClain was stopped by police, suffocated, and later injected with an overdose of ketamine by paramedics, says Colorado Public Radio. McClain, a 23-year-old massage therapist, was leaving a convenience store in Aurora, Colorado, when someone called the police to say he was acting suspicious. McClain, had a blood circulation disorder and was wearing warm clothing and a ski mask. The police questioned him and the conversation quickly escalated after McClain told the officers he didn’t have a gun and preferred personal space. In an attempt to subdue him, officers used carotid chokeholds twice, which resulted in McClain passing out and vomiting before paramedics arrived. It was in the ambulance where paramedics found McClain to be in an “excited delirium” and injected him with 500 mg of ketamine, which is too much for a 200lb person. McClain was 143 lbs. While traveling to the hospital, McClain suffered a heart attack and was in a coma for four days before being declared brain dead and taken off life support.

asphyxiation by police


In Southern California, three months before George Floyd’s death, in March of 2020, Edward Bronstein cried out the same words, “I can’t breathe,” while being suffocated by police officers, says The Guardian. The 38-year-old Bronstein was taken into custody where they tried to take a blood sample from him. In an 18 minute video that went public, a handcuffed Bronstein is pushed onto a mat, face down, as officers take the blood sample. According to the article, Bronstein’s screams get softer until they are no longer heard. Eleven minutes goes by until a medical professional begins CPR.  ““When the nation was in an uproar over the George Floyd tragedy, we had no idea this had also happened to Mr Bronstein,”” said Luis Carrillo, an attorney for Bronstein’s family, from the article.

Strangulation and suffocation laws differ from state to state, however, most states have an imprisonment and fine penalty. According to Massachusetts state law, should strangulation and suffocation occur, a fine and imprisonment are possible; imprisonment in a state prison for no more than five years, and no more than two and a half in a correctional facility or a fine of no more than $5000, or both a fine and imprisonment to the person who inflicted the harm.

These are only a couple incidents of strangulation and suffocation documented and reported nationally. The chokehold that killed Elijah McClain has since been banned statewide in Colorado, says CPR, and executive orders enforcing accountability and documentation for law enforcement have been in place since May of this year.

ban on chokeholds

Suffocation by Police in California

What about California law? If you or somebody you love is a victim of police brutality like that from a chokehold, contact attorney Cameron Sehat without delay, Sehat Law Firm are here to help you. By filing a lawsuit can seek justice for your loved one and also join the battle to keep our communities safe from police who abuse their power.