WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview aired on Friday that he would like to see a ban on police choke holds in most instances, although he suggested their use would be understandable in some one-on-one situations.
“I don’t like choke holds … (but) sometimes, if you’re alone and you’re fighting someone, it’s tough,” Trump told Fox News Channel, while adding: “It would be, I think, a very good thing that, generally speaking, it should be ended.”
Trump’s comments follow the May 25 death of African American George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd’s death ignited a wave of protests in American cities and abroad, and it re-energized the Black Lives Matter racial justice movement.
Trump on Thursday announced modest plans for an executive order on policing, while making it clear he would not support sweeping proposals in response to the protests.
Some Republicans in Congress have indicated support for certain measures proposed by Democrats, including a ban on choke holds and eliminating the legal defense of “qualified immunity,” which helps officers evade civil rights lawsuits.
“I think it’s a disgrace and it’s got to stop,” Trump said of police violence against African Americans. He added that the actions of a “bad apple” could not be allowed to destroy the image of law enforcement officers who “take really good care of us.”
In the interview, which was taped on Thursday, Trump said he wanted “really compassionate but strong law enforcement.”
He said the concept of banning choke holds “sounds so perfect.” But he said the use of a choke hold could be understandable “if a police officer is in a bad scuffle and he’s got somebody in a choke hold.”
“And that does happen. So, you have to be careful,” Trump added.
Reporting by Lisa Lambert and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis