France reverses chokehold ban after police pushback

France reversed a recent ban on chokeholds after police officers took to the streets to protest the new measure, arguing it would put their lives at risk.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced last week that France would stop the use of chokeholds after 1,500 people sent in complaints regarding police brutality.

"It will no longer be taught in police and gendarmerie schools. It is a method that has its dangers," Castaner said in a press conference according to France24.

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Ten of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in France following the death of George Floyd, who died in U.S. police custody May 25. French demonstrators protested police brutality amongst French police officers, and looked to the death of 24-year-old Adama Traoré, a black man of Malian origin who died in French police custody in 2016.

Medical reports completed by Traoré’s family show he was suffocated after being held down on the ground for too long. Police officials have rejected this claim saying he had a pre-existing condition that led to his death. The case is still under investigation, according to The Guardian.

In a letter to the police unions, Castaner said that the chokehold would no longer be taught or used by officers when attempting to make arrests.

French police officers responded to the ban by counter-protesting the order for five days, saying it put their lives in danger.

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National police chief Jean-Marc Falcone reportedly sent a letter to his staff saying that chokeholds will no longer be taught during training, but they can continue to be used “with discernment” until other alternatives are found.

Government officials are also pushing for more body cams to be used in order to identify and combat racist tendencies, and stun guns will be tested for wider use by French police officers.

Stun guns, already commonly used in the United States and frequently at the center of debate when it comes to excessive police force, are becoming more popular in Europe.

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According to a report by France24, France saw 1,400 stun gun releases in 2017, and by 2019 the country had increased that figure by almost a 1000 new cases, with over 2,300 releases.

There are 15,000 stun guns in use in France, which has a total police force of 240,000 officers, according to reporting by France24. In the U.S., more than three quarters off all police officers to carry stun guns as a standard-issue part of their uniform.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.