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Friday, August 14, 2020

Texas Black Legislative Caucus Introduces George Floyd Act to Curb Police Use of Force

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2020 at 9:44 AM

click to enlarge JAMES DOBBINS
  • James Dobbins
Black members of the Texas Legislature have introduced a police-reform proposal to ban chokeholds, require officers to intervene when a colleague is using undue force and limit individual cops' immunity from lawsuits.

The legislation, championed by members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, is dubbed the George Floyd Act, after the Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as he cried out for help.

During a virtual press conference Thursday, State Rep. Harold V. Dutton, who chairs the caucus, acknowledged that attempts at justice reform in Texas have frequently met with dead ends, but hinted this time would be different.

“These dead ends have to go — and particularly the dead ends that relate specifically to law enforcement,” said Dutton, a Houston Democrat.

Central to the George Floyd Act is language requiring cops to attempt to de-escalate encounters with suspects and barring use of lethal force except in situations where there's no other option. The proposal also would limit qualified immunity, which shields police officers from being sued.

Floyd's brother Rodney Floyd, present at the press conference, said the measures were "way overdue."

The caucus' proposal is unlikely to be taken up until 2021, when the next legislative session begins. It's also likely to face well-funded resistance from the state's police unions.

What's more, it's unclear how willing Republican Gov. Greg Abbott will be to support such sweeping reforms. While Abbott condemned Floyd's killing, he's so far only indicated support for improving law enforcement training.

In his remarks, Dutton said he expects lawmakers to file additional police-reform measures before the session, including one that would ban no-knock warrants that allow officers to forcibly enter homes without warning.

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