• Home
  • Posts
  • Top Stories
  • Qualified Immunity Remains Sticking Point in National Policing Reform Negotiations

Qualified Immunity Remains Sticking Point in National Policing Reform Negotiations

| lafocus |

Kisha Smith

A bipartisan team of Democratic and Republican lawmakers—including Congresswoman Karen Bass and Senators Tim Scott, Lindsay Graham and Cory Booker— working since April 20 to come to an agreement on policing reform by the May 25 anniversary of George Floyd’s killing, have hit a familiar snag in negotiations: qualified immunity.

“Right now, especially on the House side, it’s our position that qualified immunity has to be eliminated,” Bass told reporters. “Qualified immunity will be a part of the final bill.”

“I’m on the exact opposite side”, said Tim Scott, who has been leading the charge for the GOP. 

Other bones of contention in the bill include federal standards on no-knock warrants; the collection of use-of-force data; lowering the criminal standard for finding law enforcement officers guilty of depriving a person of his or her civil rights;and the creation of a national database to track police officers with a history of police misconduct.

President Biden had called for action on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by May 25, but according to Booker, that is not likely. 

“We’re all trying to get it done as quickly as possible,” said Booker, “but there is no deadline for us”.

Booker has openly stated that “any meaningful bill must include accountability for egregious misconduct, more transparency and changing police practices to prevent police violence from occurring in the first place,” 

Qualified immunity is the legal doctrine that shields individual officers from being sued, instead allowing lawsuits only when an individual’s “clearly established” statutory or constitutional rights have been violated.

As it now stands, taxpayers foot the bills in wrongful death lawsuits like that brought by the family of George Floyd, which resulted in a $27 million settlement. More than $3 billion has been spent over the last decade to settle police misconduct lawsuits in 31 of 50 citied with the highest police-to-civilian ratios.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that he and other Republicans won’t back a police reform bill without qualified immunity.

Scott, who is the GOP’s only black senator, has proposed making it easier to sue police departments, but not individual officers. However, that still leaves taxpayers on the hook.


House Majority Whip James Clyburn suggested on a recent Sunday morning show that he would be willing to compromise.

“The problem we have got now is that there are some bad apples in policing. We have seen it in our living rooms,” Clyburn said. “We know it’s still there. We have got to root out the bad apples, and let’s go forward with a good, solid program.

“I will never sacrifice good on the altar of perfect.”

It is not, however, a sentiment shared by Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who stated, “For too long, victims of police brutality and their families have been denied legal recourse, furthering their pain and impeding their healing. Ending qualified immunity is critical to these efforts and weakening or removing the qualified immunity provisions in the bill should not be on the table.”

Said Bass, “The bottom line is we want to see these shootings stop. How is that going to happen if officers are not held accountable?”


| lafocus |

More Coverage

California Senate Gets Second Chance to Pass Prison Slavery Bill This Week

Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ ‌|‌ ‌California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌ On June 23, the California Senate rejected a constitutional…

Generation Z Sparking the ‘Great Resignation’ as Employers Realize Shortages

Stacy M. Brown/ NNPA Newswire The pandemic has spurred the Great Resignation phenomenon, and it is still on. Many wor…

South L.A. Church Blesses City With $20,000 in Free Gasoline

As gas prices continue to surge in California—surpassing even the federal minimum wage of $7.25 at some Los Angeles g…

Hundreds of Compton Residents Chosen for Guaranteed Income Program

Dianne Lugo Compton has joined in participating in a successful program to grant some of its residents a guaranteed i…

Pastor Tyron Robinson Named to Succeed Bishop Paul Morton

Staff Last year, nationally renowned pastor and gospel singer Bishop Paul S. Morton announced he would step down as s…

New Fund Will Grant $10,000 to Struggling Local Business Owners

Staff More relief for local Los Angeles small business owners is on the way. A new fund, the LA Regional COVID Fund, …

Probe Into Prison Deaths Ends Up Uncovering $8 Billion in Untracked State Money

Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media What started out as an investigation into inmate deaths in some of Calif…

Despite Massively Successful Fundraising Efforts, Community Group Fails to Purchase Crenshaw Mall

Dianne Lugo The saga of the historic Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza ownership continues with local Black community orga…

Latest Politics

Faith Community Celebrates Famed Preacher Manuel Scott Jr.’s 40 Years of Evangelism

Bill Cosby Ordered to Pay $500K To Woman He Assaulted in 1975

The Lookout: Four California Criminal Justice Reform Laws That Took Effect This Year

Bill That Would Allow Calif. Parents to Sue Social Media Companies Moves Forward

Pres. Biden, V.P. Harris Praise Rep. Bass for Leadership on George Floyd Policing Act

© Copyright 2021 - LA Focus Newspaper