House Revives and Passes Bill Ending Qualified Immunity for Virginia Law Enforcement Officers

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The House on Tuesday reconsidered and passed House Bill 5013, a controversial measure that allows law enforcement officers to be held liable in court for actions taken while on duty without qualified immunity as a defense.

The bill was originally defeated by the House on Friday (47-Y 48-N 3-A) with several Democrats opposing their party to vote in opposition. The bill was also defeated last Monday in the Appropriations Committee before being reconsidered and advanced.

On Tuesday, the bill passed by a vote of 49-Y 45-N 2-A.

“When it comes to liabilities, these officers are well trained professionals, and if they have to use a certain maneuver to control a suspect or a criminal, and it’s their life versus the subject, then they have to do what they have to do,” Del. Wendell Walker (R-Bedford County) said in an interview with The Virginia Star. “But, that is not the everyday case. So, no officers of any level should be liable for any lawsuit damages in pursuit of fulfilling their job requirements.”

Del. Nicholas Freitas (R-Culpeper County) told The Star there was a lot of bipartisan support on a range of policing reform bills being considered during the 2020 special session, but the legislation would be submitted in a clear left-wing fashion, which was enough to deter bipartisanship.

Freitas continued: “If Democrats are basically going to tell officers that the chance of them losing their livelihood and losing their house or their savings or everything else goes up exponentially when they actually have to do their job, when it gets tough, then I think Democrats are asking for a police force that doesn’t actually engage.” 

Both Freitas and Walker guessed that the Democratic caucus had done some strong-arming of specific members over the holiday weekend to get the proper number of votes for passage.

Del. Ibraheem Samirah (D-Fairfax County), one of the Democrats that voted in opposition on Friday, was the member of the prevailing side to call for the motion to reconsider the bill.

The Star reached out to multiple Democratic delegates to comment – including the bill’s sponsor Del. Jeff Bourne (D-Richmond City) – but did not hear back by press time.

Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman echoed the concerns of Walker and Freitas saying that he was very disturbed the bill had passed and that those pushing the legislation had no idea how it would impact law enforcement. 

Chapman added he thought the bill was ill advised, that it could be a detriment to the Commonwealth and that it will be harder to recruit good people into law enforcement.

The Senate Judiciary Committee already rejected a similar bill two weeks ago but will have to repeat those debates in front of the entire body soon.

“I hope the Senate has more sense than the house does,” Walker said. “I hope it won’t pass in the Senate.”

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Jacob Taylor is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Follow Jacob on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Virginia State Police” by cliff1066. CC BY 2.0.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Thoughts to “House Revives and Passes Bill Ending Qualified Immunity for Virginia Law Enforcement Officers”

  1. Habu

    If you want to end Qualified Immunity then punishment for crimes, in particular resisting arrest, must be dramatically increased as a possible deterrent to criminals resisting any law enforcement action. There will always be individuals that will resist arrest and unless you want them to continue their criminal activities, law enforcement officers must have the authority to do what ever it takes (within reason) to apprehend these criminals.
    The fools that want to end Qualified Immunity need to “walk a mile” in the police officer’s shoes before casting their vote. Let them try to arrest someone physically resisting apprehension and then see how they vote.

    .

  2. JB Taylor

    Police officers are often placed in impossible positions and have to make snap decisions in milliseconds. Is every decision going to be good? No, However we can not let them suffer financially for every little thing that the family of the accused thinks went wrong. This is just another form of defund the police, and if you pass it the cops will quit in mass as they cannot afford all the frivolous law suits. Then there will be no one to protect ignorant stupid politicians from their enraged constituents. Better think about that.

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