State Watch

Colorado governor signs sweeping police reform bill ending qualified immunity, banning chokeholds

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Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) on Friday signed a sweeping police reform bill into law that includes the end of qualified immunity for officers. 

The bill ends the legal doctrine that protects police officers from civil lawsuits, which some have argued gives cover for cops who use excessive force. The issue has gained national attention after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on him for nearly nine minutes. 

“By facing the cold hard truth about the unequal treatment of Black Americans and communities of color, we can and we will create real change that will materially improve the lives of countless Americans of this generation and future generations,” Polis said before signing the bill. “And we can bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.”

The sweeping Colorado bill also requires all state and local police wear body cameras by 2023 — with footage being made public — and bans chokeholds, shooting fleeing suspects and using deadly force unless a life is in immediate danger. It also requires officers to report every time they stop someone they suspect of a crime and record that person’s ethnicity, race and gender.

The bill also asks cops to report their colleagues for wrongdoing, and will make officers personally liable for up to $25,000 in damages if they violate someone’s civil rights. 

The bill was led by State Rep. Leslie Herod (D) and sponsored by fellow Democrats state Sen. Leroy Garcia, state Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and state Sen. Rhonda Fields. All lawmakers are people of color, and they worked alongside the American Civil Liberties Union to craft the legislation. 

The lawmakers said their law came in direct response to widespread protests demanding changes to police procedures in the wake of violent deaths of people in police custody. 

Colorado is just one of many states passing its own police reform in response to protests, while Congress is expected to tackle the issue nationally in the coming weeks. 

Tags ban Bill Black Lives Matter BLM Chokeholds Colorado COPS George Floyd George Floyd death Jared Polis Law officers Police Qualified immunity Reform signed

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