Senate committee kills bill to eliminate qualified immunity for police in Virginia again

September 11, 2020

According to a story from WRIC, TV. legislation aimed at eliminating qualified immunity for police, a legal defense that often shields officers from civil lawsuits, was killed by a Virginia Senate committee just two days after the House voted to revive and approve the bill. Lawmakers did, however, float the idea of creating a commission to take a deeper look at the measure next year.

The bill would have allowed those alleging violations of their rights to sue police and seek damages in court. Changes to the measure, which was introduced by Del. Jeffrey Bourne (D-Richmond), were made after it was killed by a House panel early last week.

The measure was then revived and narrowly approved by the House of Delegates before being voted down last Friday. At the start of Tuesday’s floor session, Del. Ibraheem S. Samirah (D-Fairfax) made a motion to reconsider the previous vote.

With the help of two Democrats who did not vote for the bill, Samirah and Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax), and one Republican lawmaker who wasn’t present at the time of the vote, the chamber voted 49-45 with two delegates abstaining to pass the legislation just four days after initially rejecting it.

During Thursday’s debate over the legislation, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee pushed back on specific language in the bill. Sen. Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax City) challenged Bourne’s bill, calling it “very broad” and complaining that it sets no standards.

The panel voted 12-3 to halt the bill indefinitely, essentially tabling the bill unless it’s picked up at a later date. Lawmakers stressed a desire to pick up the bill during next year’s session and possibly organizing a committee to further look over the details of the measure.


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