Qualified immunity for officers a hot-button issue in police accountability bill
Legislators in Bridgeport heard from their constituents Tuesday who rallied in support of the new police accountability bill.
The supporters included clergy, activists and officials.
Some demonstrators who were part of a protest camp in the city spoke about different sections of the legislation. The most controversial may be regarding qualified immunity, which protects officers from lawsuits.
"For me, it rises and falls on qualified immunity," said Sen. Dennis Bradley. "If officers are to continue to shield their conduct behind qualified immunity, what is it worth if we have you on tape?"
Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday he is for dropping that portion of the bill, however lawmakers say they believe they have the votes needed to pass with it included.
Jazmarie Melendez's brother, 15-year-old Jayson Negron, was killed by police after a brief chase in a stolen car.
"There have been a lot of moments where I felt alone, and it felt like justice is never going to come," she said.
She believes the bill represents progress.
"Things are definitely changing. People are not staying to the side anymore -- people are coming to the table and pushing forward," she said.
The officer involved in the Jayson Negron shooting was cleared of any wrongdoing by state prosecutors.
The reform bill being proposed would take that responsibility away from prosecutors in favor of independent investigators.
Many police officers oppose the current version of the bill, especially the idea of allowing them to be sued.
Lawmakers say it could come up for a vote in Hartford this week.