Two Ohio state representatives announced on Friday that they are set to introduce legislation aimed at limiting qualified immunity for police officers in Ohio.
Ohio state Reps. Thomas West (D-49-Canton) and Sedrick Denson (D-33-Cincinnati) said on Friday that they will soon introduce legislation that will limit legal doctrine that means government officials, such as law enforcement, cannot be liable for wrongdoing that occurs while performing their job
“It’s time to get serious about ensuring more accountability for our officers,” West (pictured above, right) said in a statement on Friday. “While we respect the difficult nature of their work, the difficulty of the job is not justification for an absolute shield from any liability when an officer uses excessive or even deadly force against people. Those individuals and their families should have a real opportunity to hold that officer accountable, without the blanket protections of qualified immunity.”
The bill, part of a larger police reform package introduced on Monday, would remove qualified immunity as a defense for police officers, which would allow them to be sued in state court. It would also mandate that sued officers who lose their case would be personally liable for five percent of the settlement amount, up to $25,000.
“Accountability is key to transparent, effective, community-based policing and helps to ensure the safety of both police officers and the communities they serve. Qualified immunity creates a barrier to accountability that is unacceptable,” Denson (pictured above, left) said. “Policing is a difficult job, there is no doubt about that. However, that does not diminish the need to hold police officers liable for their actions.”
The bill has not yet been introduced, but is in the final stages of drafting, according to the representatives.
The legislation follows both the police shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant earlier this month and a report from the Ohio State University on police conduct during protests responding to the death of George Floyd last year.
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