CopBlock.org | Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine by which police are shielded from civil suits when they violate peoples’ rights. If an ordinary person wrongly abuses, beats, or kills another human being, they are of course subject not only to criminal prosecution, but civil liability for their violence. Police on the other hand, are shielded by qualified immunity. This means that there is a major obstacle in place when victims of police brutality try to sue violent cops.
Qualified immunity as a legal doctrine has a bit of history, but at the root of it is the idea, propounded in the Supreme Court case Harlow v. Fitzgerald, that “government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” I.e. Ignorance is an excuse for them (but of course, not for you).
Not only is ignorance an excuse for police, the whole idea of “innocent until proven guilty” is turned on its head with this doctrine. The default requirement for police is not that they restrain themselves unless they are certain a criminal has violated an establish law (which is how it should be) – the default is that police may act as they please, unless the law has clearly established that doing so is a violation of the victim’s rights. Read Entire Article
By Georgia Sand