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LAPD officer violated policy by kneeling on Jaxson Hayes' neck, report says

The Times says that Hayes shouted “I can’t breathe” before another officer told the sergeant to get off of Hayes.
Credit: AP
New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes dunks during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

NEW ORLEANS — An Los Angeles Police Department sergeant who knelt on the neck of New Orleans Pelicans player Jaxson Hayes for nearly 15 seconds was found to have violated the department’s policy, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times late Wednesday.

The incident occurred last July in Woodland Hills after police were called to respond to a possible report of Hayes being “loud and violent” with his significant other, the paper reported.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore wrote that he agreed with a review board that an officer with the level of training of Sgt. Darren Holst “would not reasonably believe that applying direct pressure to the trachea or windpipe” was necessary.

The Times says that Hayes shouted “I can’t breathe” before another officer told Holst to get off of Hayes. The paper said it tried to reach Hayes’ attorney for comment but it hadn’t been returned as of late Wednesday.

The paper’s report said that by the time officers arrived, Hayes and the woman who called told them the situation had been defused but officers asked Hayes to wait outside while they talked to her. At that point Hayes asked to see a warrant and started arguing after he wasn’t allowed to go inside.

Hayes allegedly pushed one of the officers into a wall and that led to the altercation that included the officer kneeling on his neck for 15 seconds. Hayes was also Tased.

The Times said Hayes was initially charged with five counts of abusing a spouse, one count of resisting arrest, one count of battery against an officer and one count of false imprisonment.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office did not file felony charges against Hayes and he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts on Feb. 24 and was sentenced to probation and community service and required to attend a year of domestic violence classes.

The LAPD’s department policy says officers are forbidden from blocking or restricting a person’s airway while trying to subdue them, according to the Times.

Hayes averaged 9.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 2021, his third season with the Pelicans.

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