WGXC-90.7 FM

Albany lawmaker wants to take on police qualified immunity

Jun 28, 2020 6:33 am
City and State reports that lawmakers in Albany have a few more ideas for police reform. State Sen. Zellnor Myrie plans to introduce a bill to eliminate qualified immunity. That is a legal doctrine that means a public employee can not be sued while they are doing their job, even if they may be violating someone’s constitutional rights. “Victims of police brutality have been unable to get any sort of relief because at every turn the courts have used the doctrine of qualified immunity to shield officers from liability,” Myrie said. “In the absence of federal action, I think it’s important for New York to step up and show people that we will hold police officers liable for misconduct.” Reuters found that officers using the qualified immunity defense won 56 percent of excessive force cases in federal courts from 2017 to 2019. The police, though, want to keep their privilege. “Once again, our elected officials are dumping all of the liability for their decisions onto the police officer on the street,” New York City Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said. “They make the laws, they set the policies, they pick the enforcement priorities. But when something goes wrong, they are the only ones who aren’t held accountable.” Meanwhile in Schenectady, the County Attorney Chris Gardner wants the state Attorney General's Office to investigate "the discriminatory and illegal actions" of David Elmendorf, owner of an ice cream shop, who Gardner alleged used racial slurs in a text that said he doesn't hire black people. "This racist rhetoric and admission of racial discrimination would constitute violations of the NYS Human Rights Law and the Civil Rights Act of 1964," Gardner wrote in the letter he sent June 26 to the AG's Office. "The time has come to deal swiftly and justly with an individual who spreads racist rhetoric and boasts of his refusal to hire individuals based upon the color of their skin." The ice cream store owner has also been cited for numerous safety violations during the coronavirus pandemic. Online protesters were organizing a protest outside the Bumpy's ice cream shop on June 28. There are also protests planned June 28 in Rensselaer, Newburgh, Woodstock, and Ellenville. At 6 p.m. on June 28, Poughkeepsie holds a "Special City Council Meeting on Police Reform." Anyone can register for the meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mkLiZ14PQqOTSs7HiiC5qA and to comment during the meeting send an email to: ssalem@cityofpoughkeepsie.com to reserve three minutes of speaking time.,