Reconsider or Replace Qualified Immunity

Reconsider or Replace Qualified Immunity

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Matthew Nguyen started this petition to U.S. House of Representatives and

With racial tensions at its height after the death of George Floyd, many fellow Americans are protesting and calling for justice. Acts of police brutality, such as that committed against George Floyd, have caused division within civil society, distrust among the American people of their government/authorities, and international embarrassment to the US. Reconsidering Qualified Immunity or replacing it with a more ethical and sound policy is key to stopping cases of police brutality and racial injustice. 

Qualified Immunity allows federal officials, primarily Police Officers, to be entitled for legal immunity unless 2 conditions are met: 1) Did a constitutional violation occur? and 2) Was the right "clearly established"?. If any of these conditions are not met, a police officer could not be tried in court. The second condition is dangerous, as it effectively says that if there is no precedent of the specific incident, the police officer in question must be granted qualified immunity. For example, in Brooks v. City of Seattle, the Ninth Circuit held that in the context of the case, the police violated a pregnant woman's constitutional rights when she was tased 3 times in less than a minute. However, since no previous ("clearly established") incident of this has occurred before, the officers involved received qualified immunity.

Qualified immunity was set up to allow officers to be unafraid of using force when necessary and to perform their duty of protecting and serving us. However, with endless amounts of unique instances of police brutality, qualified immunity provides opportunity for the overuse of power and authority. 

I believe that the large majority of police officers are good and truly want to protect and serve their fellow Americans. However, there was no previously recorded case of a police officer choking a man to death with his knee until George Floyd died. Therefore, Qualified Immunity should be reconsidered or replaced to not only prevent acts of police brutality, like that done to George Floyd, from happening in the future, but also allow and help the police to protect and serve the American people the right way.     

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