One day after defeat, House Committee passes bill ending qualified immunity for police

September 2, 2020
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A bill to end qualified immunity for police officers in Virginia was revived Sept. 1, a day after the legislation failed to win approval from a key committee.

The bill sponsored by Del. Jeff Bourne, a Democrat from Richmond, would allow people to sue police officers and collect money damages in state court for alleged violations of their civil rights, ending the immunity that shields police from liability. The legislation appeared defeated when two Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee voted with Republicans against it Aug. 31.

But the next day, the committee reconsidered and approved the legislation on a 12-8 vote, sending it to the full House for a vote. The bill is a top priority for Democrats during a special legislative session focused on police and criminal justice reforms. Republicans have opposed the legislation, arguing that it could invite frivolous lawsuits and make it more difficult to hire and retain police officers by exposing them to civil liability.

A similar bill failed in the Senate last week when the Judiciary Committee voted to send the proposal for further study.

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