The New York Legislature has failed to pass S 1991, the bill that would’ve ended qualified immunity, this session. Although disappointed, public safety advocates don’t feel defeated, and vow to continue pressing forward. They note that overwhelming public support strongly indicates that ending qualified immunity in New York is attainable in the near future.
“The New York Legislature missed an opportunity to fundamentally address two of the most pressing issues we face: the rollback of our constitutional rights at the federal level and the public safety concerns of New Yorkers,” said Katerina Siira, co-leader of End QI NY. “Our broad coalition is growing exponentially, and we won’t stop fighting until lawmakers heed the calls for accountability, justice, and transparency by those who have faced unimaginable abuse at the hands of state actors; gun safety advocates; law enforcement officials; civil rights leaders; faith leaders; athletes; and nearly two-thirds of New York’s voters.”
“I wish I were thanking the New York Legislature today for taking bold action to protect families like mine, and so many others across the state, from the agony of navigating a legal system where government officials are allowed to operate above the law,” said Darlene McDay, co-leader of End QI NY. “Instead, I am grieving for the families who already know that qualified immunity delays and denies justice—and for all of the families who will painfully come to learn that harsh lesson—until our lawmakers decide to take action to protect the rights of all New Yorkers.”
“Once again, New York State loses an opportunity to grant constitutional justice to hundreds of families across New York, who are urgently seeking restitution through civil action for the deprivation of their loved ones’ rights. No one causing harm to another human being, regardless of title, should be shielded or exempt from the law. As a leader in criminal justice reform, New York State must continue to protect the constitutional rights of its residents. We will continue pushing to make sure there is an end to qualified immunity. The desire for change is strong. Ending qualified immunity is the only way to hold public officials working for the state accountable. As a state and community, accountability in public safety is what we need to heal,” said Senator Robert Jackson, sponsor of S 1991.
“While I’m disappointed that my legislation to end qualified immunity did not pass this year, I can’t help but feel pride for what the advocates for this legislation were able to accomplish. After suffering immeasurable loss of their closest loved ones at the hands of those we entrust with our protection, individuals like Darlene McDay and Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. shared their stories so that others might not suffer the same tragedies. Now more than ever, it is apparent that officers and other government officials must be held accountable with the broad authority that they are given. Ending qualified immunity will increase trust and make our communities safer. I am fully committed to pursuing this legislation into the next session and will continue to work with my colleagues to move this bill forward,” said Assemblymember Pamela Hunter, sponsor of the bill in the Assembly.