Qualified Immunity: When Protecting Officers Leaves the Community Vulnerable
On Thursday, July 29, 2021, the Commission hosted a virtual conference for the community to learn about qualified immunity protections afforded to law enforcement officers. Across the United States, law enforcement officers have been accused of committing numerous bad acts. When private citizens attempted to take the officers to court, their cases are most often dismissed. In most instances, this is because of the court-made doctrine of qualified immunity. In this conference, panel speakers explained what qualified immunity is and how it functions. The panelists highlighted concerns about holding law enforcement officers accountable for violating people’s civil rights and discussed the obstacles of eliminating qualified immunity. Panelists also provided an update on what is being done at the state and federal level to eliminate qualified immunity and provide solutions as to what oversight bodies can do to assist in the fight to hold law enforcement officers accountable.
The event was moderated by Priscilla Ocen, Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight Commission Chair & Professor of Law at Loyola Law School and Brian K. Williams, Esq. Executive Director of the Commission. Speakers included Joanna Schwartz, Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law (presentation); James Wheeler, Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) President; John Raphling, Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher on Criminal Justice for the U.S. program; and Timothy K. Talbot, Attorney at Law, Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver. Play the video below or view the Webex recording.