Gabe, a young man with mental disabilities, was riding his bike on a spring day in 2013.
Police had received multiple calls about a Black man wearing a brown shirt and blue jeans. Gabe, sporting a blue jacket and carrying a bright orange toy gun, was riding his bike 100 yards away. Within six seconds of seeing him, the police fired at Gabe over 17 times — hitting him four times in the chest. He fled to his family’s backyard where his father tried to save him, but Gabe’s wounds were too severe.
Matthew Hinds, who shot and killed Gabe, has escaped punishment because of qualified immunity.
33 years old — Fort Worth, TEXAS
What happens when cops shoot first and ask questions later? Lives change forever — instantly.
It was 2016. David was walking to his girlfriend’s house when two off-duty police officers in an unmarked car started yelling out their window at him. The cops were looking for “two shirtless Black men” approximately six feet tall, in their early 20s, who were wanted for stealing a pair of tennis shoes. David didn’t meet that description: he was in his mid-30s and about 5’6”. But that didn’t stop the cops. Within five seconds of pulling over, the officers shot David in the back.
David is now permanently paralyzed, and lives with PTSD and depression in a nursing home at age 37.
The shooter, officer Hugo Barron, hasn’t been charged and faces no discipline due to qualified immunity.
33 years old — Seattle, WASHINGTON
Malaika was seven months pregnant when police tased her after pulling her over for speeding — then blamed her.
Malaika was driving her 11-year-old son to school when she was stopped for speeding and refused to get out of her car, telling officers, “I am pregnant. I’m less than 60 days from having my baby.” They considered her situation, and then chose to electrocute her in the thigh, instead of her stomach. She has permanent scars to this day.
The police were shielded by qualified immunity.
55 years old — Nashville, TENNESSEE
Bad cops can even hurt people already in custody, and get away with it.
Following a robbery, Alexander surrendered to police. While sitting on the ground with his hands in the air, the cops sicced an attack dog on him. The dog mauled Alexander, sending him to the hospital with severe flesh wounds.
Over 66% of Americans agree: we must end qualified immunity. There’s a bipartisan bill in Congress to achieve this reform.
It’s time for the people’s voices to be heard in court, and in the Capitol. Good cops have a tough enough job, which is only made harder by bad cops who lack accountability, and who have immunity from their actions against the public.
Americans also favor:
Nonviolent alternatives training 92%
Federal police misconduct database 90%
Empower civilian oversight boards 75%
Outlawing chokeholds 74%
Qualified immunity hurts countless victims each year.
To name them all, would fill an entire book. Here are just a few of the most recent, most unfair cases.