LAPD sergeant broke policy by kneeling on Jaxson Hayes’ neck

An LAPD sergeant violated department guidelines by kneeling on the neck of NBA player Jaxson Hayes while arresting him in response to a call about a domestic dispute last July, the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled Tuesday.

After Hayes, a 6-foot-11 center for the New Orleans Pelicans, was brought to the ground by police outside a Woodland Hills home, Sgt. Darren Holst said he knelt on his neck.

Hayes screamed, “I can’t breathe,” and another officer tasered him twice and hit him once in the chest, LAPD Chief Michel Moore wrote in a report released after Tuesday’s weekly police commission meeting . The commissioners agreed with the chief’s findings that the knee-on-the-neck maneuver violated department protocols, but the use of the taser was warranted.

For his conclusion, Moore cited a review board investigation into the use of force that found Holst pressed his knee twice on the basketball player’s neck, first for four seconds and then for 11 seconds. Moore wrote that the sergeant’s tactics “resulted in an unintentional but direct pressure on Hayes’ wind or windpipe” — though not with enough force to render Hayes unconscious.

Intentionally or not, Moore said he agreed with the committee’s finding that “an officer of similar training and experience to Sergeant Holst in the same situation would not reasonably believe that applying direct pressure to the trachea or trachea would be proportionate and objective.” is reasonable, or necessary.”

An email to Hayes’ attorney seeking comment went unanswered Tuesday.

The officer who used the taser, Frank Duarte, later told investigators that when he heard Hayes screaming for air and noticed Holst kneeling next to Hayes’ neck, he asked Holst to get out, according to the report. Hayes then tried to get back up and Duarte fired the taser into his chest, the report, which quoted Duarte, said.

Moore wrote that he agreed with the review board’s finding that Duarte’s use of the taser was warranted, given Hayes’ ‘level of resistance’. He went on to say that the fact that the officers present were not wearing masks, as was required at the time of the arrest, is being addressed “at the departmental level”.

Tuesday’s police commission votes were unanimous, with one commissioner absent.

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes dribbles a basketball during a game

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes this year pleaded no wrongdoing challenge for false imprisonment and resisting an officer in connection with the Woodland Hills incident last July.

(Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press)

Police had responded to the Woodland Hills residence originally described as Hayes’ home on July 28, 2021, after his girlfriend’s cousin called 911 to report that Hayes was “loud and violent” and that his significant other was terrified have.

However, when officers arrived, Hayes and the woman who called police told them the situation had been defused.

Officers told Hayes to wait outside while they spoke to the woman, but he requested a search warrant and asked why he couldn’t go inside. As the argument escalated, an officer told Hayes he would be arrested and two officers attempted to restrain him.

Hayes spun and shoved one of the officers into a wall near the front door, according to video of the incident released by the Los Angeles Police Department last year. The officer sustained an unspecified elbow injury, police said.

As a result of the incident, Hayes, now 22, was charged with five counts of molesting a spouse or roommate, resisting arrest on one count, assaulting an LAPD officer on one count, vandalism on three counts, and fraud on one count, and imprisonment on one count a charge of trespassing.

The LAPD was immediately investigated for the force depicted in the video as it appeared to be violating department guidelines. Officers are forbidden from blocking or restricting a person’s airway while attempting to subdue them. LAPD policy also strongly discourages aiming a taser at a person’s chest.

The decision by the Los Angeles County Attorney’s Office not to press criminal charges against Hayes last year drew the ire of the union, which represents ordinary police officers.

On February 24, he pleaded no objection to charges of false detention and resisting an officer. Last month he was sentenced to three years probation, 450 hours of community service and a year of weekly domestic violence classes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. LAPD sergeant broke policy by kneeling on Jaxson Hayes’ neck

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