NAACP pushes for end to qualified immunity after police pepper spray Army officer

The organization is requesting a session of the state's legislature to pass the bill to end qualified immunity for all officers in the state

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The Virginia branch of the NAACP has had enough of police brutality and is taking action.

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The organization is asking the state’s governor to pass a Democratic bill that would end qualified immunity, the practice that protects police from lawsuits, per The Hill.

“The fact that an officer who is supposed to ‘protect and serve’ felt embolden enough to state this is the root of the problem. This isn’t the first officer we have seen without fear of consequences for their actions,” said Robert N. Barnette Jr., president of the Virginia NAACP.

The request comes after a disturbing viral video has been released of two white Windsor police officers and a Black military veteran, U.S. Army second lieutenant, Caron Nazario.

Army Second Lt. Caron Nazario (right) is shown during the traffic stop that led to his lawsuit against Windsor officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker.

In the video, he’s heard telling the officers he is afraid of exiting his vehicle, because they have guns drawn. The officer then inappropriately responds with “Yeah, you should be.”

The Army vet was pepper sprayed by the officers and has filed a complaint.

“[W]e believe that now is the time for Governor Ralph Northam to call a special session of the Virginia General Assembly to pass House Bill 2045 sponsored by Delegate Jeff Bourne to finally end qualified immunity,” said Da’Quan Marcell Love, NAACP Virginia’s executive director, in a press release.

The organization is requesting a session of the state’s legislature to pass the bill to end qualified immunity for all officers in the state.

“The Commonwealth has made tremendous progress over the last two years—banning no-knock warrants, curbing pretextual stops, mandating crisis intervention training for police, limiting the use of chokeholds, establishing civilian review boards—but there is more to do to ensure all Virginians are treated safely, and with basic respect, in interactions with police,” said a spokesperson for the governor’s office.

They claim they support police reform but have not specified qualified immunity.

New York City also voted to end the practice.

As per theGrio, New York City Council voted on several aspects of police reform, including qualified immunity. Qualified immunity protects local and state police from taking responsibility unless they go against an established constitutional right, per the National Conference of State Legislatures.

New York City would become the first in the country to end the policy, per The Hill.

“The @NYCCouncil just voted to end qualified immunity for police officers, making NYC the first city in the country to do so. Qualified immunity was established in 1967 in Mississippi to prevent Freedom Riders from holding public officials liable even when they broke the law,” tweeted council speaker Corey Johnson.

He added, “Rooted in our nation’s history of systemic racism, qualified immunity denied Freedom Riders justice and has been used to deny justice to victims of police abuse for decades,” Johnson continued. “It should never have been allowed, but I’m proud that we took action today to end it here in NYC.”

The City Council also voted to allow the Civilian Complaint Review Board to investigate officers who have a history of committing acts based on race. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment was voted to be responsible for granting and suspending press passes instead of the NYPD.

In a press release, the Council said its goal is to “increase police accountability.”

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“To increase accountability, the Council will vote on a bill that will effectively end qualified immunity as a defense for certain civil rights violations,” per the release. “New York courts have created their own version of the federal doctrine of qualified immunity, which shields police officers who are performing discretionary functions from civil liability.”

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