Washington, DC – U.S. senators who have been trying to work a compromise for police reform legislation in Congress have taken the abolishment of “qualified immunity” off the table.
Sources told Politico that police reform negotiators have stopped talking about the controversial legal doctrine that shields police officers from liability for civil damages for actions taken while acting in the capacity of a law enforcement officers, as long as the officer didn’t violate a person’s established rights.
If an officer violates a person’s legally-established rights, they are not eligible to claim qualified immunity.
Qualified immunity does not offer any protection from criminal charges but was established by the U.S. Supreme Court to curb gratuitous litigation against police officers.
On a practical level, it allows law enforcement officers to make arrests and split-second decisions regarding use of force without fear of constantly having to defend themselves personally from damages, as long as their actions were legal at the time.
Even if officers are shielded under qualified immunity, people are still able to sue the officer’s law enforcement agency for damages.
Republicans lawmakers have stood firmly against getting rid of qualified immunity.
Progressive Democrats, on the other hand, have said they will settle for nothing less than total elimination of the doctrine, Politico reported.
The House bill named after George Floyd passed in March and eliminated qualified immunity along with a host of other police reforms.
However, it has no chance of getting the 10 GOP votes needed to override a filibuster, so is considered pretty much dead in the water at this point, Politico reported.
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