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Report: LAPD Kneeling on Pelicans' Jaxson Hayes Broke Policy

The LAPD Commission unanimously ruled against LAPD sergeant by kneeling on the neck of New Orleans Pelicans' center Jaxson Hayes.

The Los Angeles Police Commission unanimously ruled an LAPD sergeant broke policy by kneeling on the neck of Jaxson Hayes during a domestic violence call. The report was first released by the Los Angeles Times.

Hayes was arrested after a struggle caught on body cameras on July 28, 2021, and pled no contest to the charges in February 2022. The 2019 NBA Draft pick out of Texas was sentenced to three years of probation, 450 hours of community service, and a year of weekly domestic violence classes in June 2022.

“The report from the commission details how Hayes yelled "I can’t breathe!” during the scuffle. The kneeling was against protocol, according to the release from LAPD Chief Michel Moore. Another officer used a Taser on him twice, hitting him once in the chest, according to the statements shared after the Police Commission’s weekly meeting Tuesday. 

All the Commissioners present backed the chief's findings that the knee-on-the-neck maneuver went against department protocols. However, the taser deployment was deemed justified. Chief Moore released his conclusion citing a use-of-force review board investigation. 

The LAPD case file shows Holst twice kneeled on the neck of Hayes. The first instance lasted four seconds, the second for 11 seconds. Moore wrote that the sergeant’s tactic “resulted in unintentional but direct pressure to Hayes’ trachea or windpipe, ”but there was not enough force to render Hayes unconscious.

The Chief added, “an officer with similar training and experience as Sergeant Holst, in the same situation, would not reasonably believe that the applying direct pressure to the trachea or windpipe was proportional, objectively reasonable, or necessary.”

Officer Frank Duarte fired the Tazer. According to the report, his statement to investigators explained he asked Holst to get off when Hayes was shouting. Duarte said the taser was fired into his chest when Hayes tried to stand up again. 

The "level of resistance" justified the multiple shots. One officer suffered an unspecified elbow injury, according to LAPD reports. According to departmental policy, restricting airways is prohibited, and targeting the chest is discouraged.

The team has not released a statement on the matter, and Hayes was last seen supporting his teammates at the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League. His representatives have yet to respond to the report.

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