Lawmakers and advocates aim to prioritize police reform after fatal beating of Tyre Nichols
BALTIMORE -- In 2021, Maryland passed the Police Accountability Act. At the time, it was seen as a significant move to hold officers accountable when they abuse their power and hurt citizens they're paid to serve.
But since video emerged of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee, some advocates and even politicians are wondering if more needs to be done to prevent police brutality.
On Thursday, activists gathered outside a courthouse in Maryland to condemn the series of events that led to Nichols' death.
"We condemned the misuse of authority by any police officer and those who cover up their crimes," Bishop Antonio Palmer of Anne Arundel County said.
Palmer, along with other activists, wants more lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which would address issues like unnecessary use of force, restrict no-knock warrants and limit qualified immunity.
With qualified immunity, officers who are accused of wrongdoing may be shielded from police civil lawsuits.
Maryland's Senate President Bill Ferguson, who described the video of Nichols' beating as "horrible" and said he wished he hadn't seen it, points to a series of police accountability laws that passed in Maryland after George Floyd's murder.
One of those laws subjects officers to disciplinary action after reviews from accountability boards with civilians on them.
"What I say in Maryland is most important is we implement the reforms that we enacted in 2021 with fidelity," Ferguson said. "We are still moving forward in that process and each jurisdiction is putting together its police accountability board. The charging committees are being stood up. The training is continuously being updated."
Gov. Wes Moore told CNN that events like Nichols' beating should shape the way lawmakers draft laws.
"The inhumanity that was shown towards Mr. Nichols that day was something that I and none of us should ever forget," Moore said.
Bipartisan efforts to pass the bill in Congress fell apart last year.
"We want justice to be given," said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). "I've always believed in any situation like this, you should gather all the information."
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday and told him they need his assistance to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
"We are committed to meaningful, substantive reforms," Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) said.
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