House advances bill to limit officer qualified immunity

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A bill by Representative Edmond Jordan passed the House to remove qualified immunity for police officers when they’re found to have violated someone’s constitutional rights.

BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – A bill by Representative Edmond Jordan passed the House to remove qualified immunity for police officers when they’re found to have violated someone’s constitutional rights.

A plaintiff would have the burden of proof in court to show a law enforcement officer violated their rights, such as using excessive force for example. Currently an officer would have immunity even if a person tried to sue them for violating their rights.

Representative Jordan said he worked closely with law enforcement agencies to gain their support with the language of the bill. The Louisiana Sheriff’s Association and multiple other law enforcement agencies supported the bill after lengthy public meetings on the language. The bill spurred emotional testimony from Representative Ted James and Rep. Jordan.

“We live in two different Americas, we live in two different Louisianas and some of the issues that we face I pray to god you never have to face,” Rep. Jordan said. “But we face them and if something happens to any of those kids I’ll appreciate your sorrys but that’s not the work. This is not about words and speeches. This is about deeds and truths.”

Representative Bryan Fontenot proposed on an amendment that would make the plaintiff responsible for court fees if they lose their case against the officer. Some called the amendment ‘a poison pill’ but it was voted to be added by a majority of the house.

The bill narrowly passed with the amendment and now heads to the senate. Rep. Jordan celebrated with several others after working on the bill for multiple sessions. Only four other states have laws in place that would remove qualified immunity in some cases.

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