ICYMI: Virginia NAACP Calls for Ending Qualified Immunity

ICYMI: Virginia NAACP Calls for Ending Qualified Immunity

Windsor, Virginia—Following the recorded police brutality against Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario in Windsor, Virginia, members of the Virginia NAACP called for the General Assembly to revisit qualified immunity, a key piece of police reform legislation. Additionally, the Attorney General’s office announced the launch of an investigation Monday. This is an important step, but it is not enough. As long as qualified immunity allows police officers to use excessive force on the people they are paid to protect, no one is safe in our communities.

“Qualified immunity makes it nearly impossible to hold police officers, like Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, accountable when they brutalize members of our community,” Ashleigh Crocker, communications director at Progress Virginia, said. “The horrific treatment of Second Lieutenant Nazario is not an isolated event. All police officers must be held accountable for their actions. By ending qualified immunity, victims of police violence could hold police officers accountable for their actions. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes and in their communities, and that’s not possible when police officers can attack innocent people with impunity.”

Viral police stop in small Virginia town renews focus on qualified immunity [Virginia Mercury, Graham Moomaw, Ned Oliver]

Standing across from the gas station where an Army lieutenant became another viral example of aggressive policing directed at a person of color, members of the Virginia NAACP called Monday for lawmakers to hold a special session on an unfinished piece of the police reform agenda.

While passing through Windsor on Dec. 5, just over a month after the General Assembly finished a special session on police reform, Nazario was pulled over for what an officer thought was a missing license plate. After waiting to pull off in a well-lit BP station, a move that apparently aroused suspicion, Nazario was confronted by two officers with guns drawn, given conflicting commands, pepper-sprayed and forced to the ground, according to a timeline laid out in his federal civil rights lawsuit against the two officers who stopped him. 

Though the police reported they initiated the stop because Nazario’s SUV was missing a license plate, they later acknowledged he had a temporary, New York-issued plate taped in the rear window of the newly purchased vehicle.

Despite the difficulties in the legislature, all five Democrats running for governor now say they support reforming qualified immunity.