US Senator Mike Braun proposes to reform police qualified immunity

Indiana U.S. Senator Mike Braun

Qualified immunity was granted to law enforcement to defend them while acting in good faith. However, Sen. Braun said it has been abused, and he wants to reform the doctrine.

Posted: Jun 24, 2020 11:28 AM
Updated: Jun 24, 2020 11:32 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN)— Indiana U.S. Senator Mike Braun is pushing to scale back some police protections.

Qualified immunity was granted to law enforcement to defend them while acting in good faith.

However, Sen. Braun said it has been abused, and he wants to reform the doctrine.

In his press release, Braun pointed to two real-life instances to explain why he thinks the current qualified immunity system isn’t working.

One of those examples included police breaking the collarbone of an unarmed woman and the other was related to police releasing a K-9 on a person who surrendered.

His proposal for reform requires police to prove there was a statute or court case in the relevant jurisdiction showing conduct was authorized.

“Unless there is a law, federal or state, or a court ruling that would make legal whatever an officer might do, that is your immunity, so to speak,” explained Braun. “If it goes beyond that, then the organization and the individual officer would have some accountability.”

Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police President William Owensby said qualified immunity does not protect police from being punished for wrongdoing.

“It does not prevent them from being criminally charged, it doesn’t prevent them from being fired, it doesn’t prevent them from having their certification revoked,” said Owensby.

Instead – he said it stops against frivolous lawsuits.

“The very first thing it would prevent is ludicrous civil actions that would bog down the system to no end,” said Owensby.

Braun wants to make sure the changes don’t hurt groups like the FOP.

“We’ve got to have some type of sensible framework out there for the sake of organizations like FOP so, for all the good work that they do, they don’t get stigmatized by these bad occurrences,” said Braun.

Owensby said he has yet to hear from Braun about his proposal.

“Simply the fact that we have not had conversations with the senator does cause me concern because I don’t know where he is getting his factual basis for the reason for him writing this bill,” said Owensby. “We’re willing to sit down with anyone at any time and talk about police reform as long as the conversation involves factual basis.”

Braun calls his proposal a landing spot that he hopes will be part of Senator Tim Scott’s bill on law enforcement reform.

“This could be part of an amendment process that brings in the discussion of qualified immunity because if it isn’t we probably won’t get any Democrats voting on the motion to proceed,” said Braun.

Senator Scott’s bill is expected to be voted on this week.

Indiana’s other U.S. Senator, Todd Young, is co-sponsoring it.

We asked him to comment on Braun’s proposal Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Young’s office said, “Qualified immunity is a very complex legal issue that merits vetting through the committee hearing process.

Senator Young is cosponsoring Senator Tim Scott’s comprehensive law enforcement reform bill, the JUSTICE Act, and continues to examine additional steps that may be needed to address police reform.”

We also asked Indiana Democratic Congressman Andre Carson to weigh in.

“For far too long, the flawed practice of qualified immunity has denied justice to victims of police misconduct and brutality.

I am encouraged that my fellow Hoosier recognizes the importance of fixing the problems with qualified immunity and has offered a proposal for the Senate to consider.

I am a strong supporter of bipartisan provisions in the House bill from Reps. Amash and Pressley, which I expect the House to approve this week.

As the legislative process advances between the House and Senate, I am cautiously optimistic that, in this unique moment in time, we will find consensus to make real change in policing that is long overdue.” U.S. Rep. Andre Carson said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 750432

Reported Deaths: 13764
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1031991782
Lake556411007
Allen41662691
St. Joseph36974564
Hamilton36561417
Elkhart29390459
Tippecanoe22886225
Vanderburgh22549400
Porter19348325
Johnson18432388
Hendricks17608317
Clark13206193
Madison13139344
Vigo12608253
LaPorte12415221
Monroe12188175
Delaware10954198
Howard10285225
Kosciusko9619119
Hancock8562145
Bartholomew8164157
Warrick7856156
Floyd7781180
Grant7232179
Wayne7160201
Boone6939103
Morgan6746141
Dubois6214118
Marshall6208116
Cass6000109
Dearborn589578
Henry5895109
Noble580787
Jackson508975
Shelby500896
Lawrence4738122
Gibson444593
Clinton441455
Harrison441073
DeKalb439485
Montgomery436390
Whitley406343
Huntington402481
Steuben399759
Miami393169
Jasper387454
Knox375890
Putnam372160
Wabash360683
Ripley346970
Adams345355
Jefferson335785
White331553
Daviess3033100
Wells295181
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay266448
Washington245234
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234431
Starke227958
Fountain220348
Sullivan214343
Owen211658
Fulton202142
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188155
Perry187137
Rush175826
Vermillion174644
Franklin170335
Tipton166146
Parke149316
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120547
Newton113736
Brown104043
Crawford102316
Benton101414
Martin91615
Warren83815
Switzerland8118
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108146

Reported Deaths: 20122
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1286421460
Cuyahoga1157382208
Hamilton813551248
Montgomery525311041
Summit48395999
Lucas43343818
Butler38951604
Stark33318929
Lorain25658504
Warren24580303
Mahoning22355603
Lake21166387
Clermont20111253
Delaware18841135
Licking16660222
Fairfield16570204
Trumbull16537482
Medina15603271
Greene15272247
Clark14233306
Wood13287198
Portage13242214
Allen11910239
Richland11601211
Miami10843224
Wayne9130222
Columbiana9029230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8658122
Tuscarawas8643248
Marion8641138
Erie8056164
Ashtabula7147179
Hancock6996132
Ross6943161
Geauga6834150
Scioto6534105
Belmont6155174
Union584549
Lawrence5726102
Jefferson5675158
Huron5544122
Sandusky5439125
Darke5415129
Seneca5347126
Washington5318109
Athens523660
Auglaize501887
Mercer487385
Shelby476595
Knox4570112
Madison444065
Ashland435597
Putnam4336103
Defiance432298
Fulton432072
Crawford4036110
Brown402461
Logan387577
Preble3848104
Clinton379166
Ottawa373581
Highland359665
Williams348078
Champaign344258
Guernsey324853
Jackson318154
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin274965
Henry273367
Holmes2699101
Coshocton268960
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll197148
Paulding176542
Meigs148240
Monroe136344
Noble136039
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85517
Unassigned03
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