US House Passes Police Reforms Ahead of George Floyd Murder Trial
By Staff, Agencies
A sweeping police reform package that bans choke-holds and combats racial profiling cleared the US House of Representatives Wednesday, five days before the trial of a white officer charged with murdering African-American George Floyd.
The bill is named after Floyd, who died last May 25 when then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on the victim's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Two separate autopsy reports suggest though, that Floyd had lethal levels of the drug fentanyl in his system.
The measure bans choke-holds and no-knock warrants, combats racial profiling, limits the transfer of military equipment to local police forces, expands police training, and establishes a database to track officer misconduct.
Its most controversial provision is likely the restriction of officer immunity. The longstanding legal doctrine shields police from civil lawsuits – something which US House Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats have criticized as unfairly protecting police from accountability.
The shocking killing was caught on video and sparked mass protests across the nation in the midst of the 2020 election.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act cleared the House last year but was blocked in the Republican-led Senate.
With US President Joe Biden in office since January, and the Senate narrowly controlled by Democrats, the bill was reintroduced last week and it passed Wednesday largely along party lines, 220 to 212.
Just one Republican supported the measure, while two Democrats opposed it.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain given that the chamber is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.
The president told Democrats Wednesday that he "strongly" supports the full bill.