New York Police Department Officers No Longer Protected From Civil Lawsuits After Police Reform Legislation Passes
The New York City Council has voted to end qualified immunity for police officers, making it easier for people who believe themselves to be victims of misconduct to sue officers.
The council voted to remove the decades-old protection on Thursday, March 25, after protests against police brutality prompted calls for reform.
Under the previous ruling, New York Police Department officers were protected from being liable for misconduct or lawsuits claiming they had violated the constitutional rights of people they arrested, for example by conducting illegal searches or using excessive force.
Advocates for the change argued that removing the protection would make officers less likely to use aggression when fighting crime.
Commenting on the vote, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the immunity has been ‘used to deny justice to victims of police abuse for decades’.
Sharing his thoughts on Twitter, he wrote, ‘Rooted in our nation’s history of systemic racism, qualified immunity denied Freedom Riders justice and has been used to deny justice to victims… It should never have been allowed, but I’m proud that we took action today to end it here in NYC.’
Councilman Stephen Levin, who sponsored the bill, commented, ‘What we are doing is saying the police can’t walk into the courtroom and say, ‘The plaintiff has no right to bring me here because I am immune’.
Per The New York Times, he added, ‘This is about giving people a right to protect the most fundamental rights in our democracy.’
The decision to remove qualified immunity has received support from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and makes New York City the largest jurisdiction to limit the ability of officers to invoke the defence.
The measure came as part of a package of police reform bills, which also included approval of de Blasio’s $72 million plan for improving police practices and accountability.
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CreditsNew York Times
New York Times