RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday narrowly passed a bill to eliminate qualified immunity for police, a legal defense that often prevents officers from facing civil lawsuits, just days after rejecting the same bill.
The bill, introduced by Del. Jeffrey Bourne (D-Richmond), was killed in committee but then revived with some changes last week. Bourne told 8News’ Jackie Defusco that the old version would’ve held employers liable for an officer’s actions while they were off-duty but in uniform. In the latest version, Bourne said that liability is no longer automatic.
Despite the changes, the measure was voted down by the House last Friday. At the start of Tuesday’s floor session, Del. Ibraheem S. Samirah (D-Fairfax) made a motion to reconsider the previous vote, which seemed to have killed the bill on Sept. 4.
Samirah, who voted against the measure last week, teased his plans on Twitter hours before the session. “Today’s the day. I’ll motion for a revote to end Qualified Immunity in Virginia for good during session, at 4pm,” he wrote. “With the help of Del. @KayeKory, we can pass it. Stay tuned.”
Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax), who abstained originally, decided to vote “yes” on Tuesday.
“Although I had concerns about the bill last Friday, I welcomed the reconsideration as an opportunity to do further work with Delegate Bourne and my House and Senate colleagues,” Kory said in a statement after the vote.
Republicans lashed out after the vote, claiming that issues prevented some lawmakers from being able to vote. Tuesday’s vote was 49-45 with two delegates abstaining. The bill will now go to the Senate for a vote.
“Today, the House of Delegates made significant strides in improving accountability and transparency throughout policing and our criminal justice system,” House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) said in a statement. “These bills move our Commonwealth closer to realizing the promise that all Virginians are governed equally by the rule of law.”