Michigan House Democrats on Tuesday announced a wide-ranging package of police reform legislation that would attempt to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions while on the job.
Among the 16 bills are proposals to ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants. Another bill would make it easier for the state to revoke the license of problem officers so they are unable to hop from job to job as they get disciplined or fired.
The family of Breonna Taylor — who was shot and killed by police as she slept in her bed during the execution of a no-knock warrant in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2020 — urged lawmakers to act during a news conference in Lansing. Taylor’s killing by police was one of a handful of incidents last year that galvanized a movement for changes to policing in this country.
“The risks associated with no-knock warrants and warrants executed in the middle of the night are too dangerous to citizens and officers alike. No amount of drug seizure is ever worth taking the life of someone.” —Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor’s mother
“We asked Michigan politicians to consider all the mothers in this country Black and Brown, who are not able to go back to normal after their loved one has had their life cut short to police brutality and excessive use of force,” said Tawanna Gordon, who is Taylor’s cousin.
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, wants the practice of no-knock warrants to end and agrees with the bills that lawmakers have introduced.
“The risks associated with no-knock warrants and warrants executed in the middle of the night are too dangerous to citizens and officers alike. No amount of drug seizure is ever worth taking the life of someone,” she said. Taylor was shot by police as she slept in her bed, while police raided her home looking for her ex-boyfriend. A judge had signed a warrant allowing officers to search Taylor’s apartment because authorities said they believed that one of the men they were investigating had used her residence to receive packages.
Another bill would eliminate qualified immunity for police, making them susceptible to civil lawsuits for things they did on the job.
State Rep. Tyrone Carter of Detroit says it’s time to end qualified immunity and start making police misconduct records public.
“They’re public employees. They’re being paid by public dollars and taxpayers are tired of paying for their mistakes,” he said.
It’s unclear how much of this legislation will get brought up by the Republican-controlled House.
Similar bipartisan bills are working their way through a state Senate committee.