Frederick K. Brewington, Esq., a civil rights attorney and Principal of The Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington, is available to comment on the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming arguments on the “qualified immunity” doctrine and the New York State Legislature’s approval to repeal the 50-a statute.
The justices of the United States Supreme Court are scheduled to argue the merits of the “qualified immunity” doctrine on June 11. The doctrine asked if a police officer used excessive force and if their conduct was illegal because it was in violation of a “clearly established” court ruling on the books that barred police from acting in that manner. The Court established this doctrine to protect police departments from frivolous lawsuits and to allow a margin of error in certain situations in which split-second decisions were made.
“Many of these police brutality lawsuits were dismissed by the courts because there was no prior factual basis that was established showing these officers were in the wrong,” Mr. Brewington says. “What the doctrine does is protect the officers who commit heinous acts like what Officer Chauvin did to Mr. Floyd. It allows the brutality and systemic racism that is practiced by these officers to perpetuate.”
Mr. Brewington praised the New York State Legislature for passing a bill repealing 50-a, which sealed the disciplinary records of police officers who were involved in misconduct. The repeal allows for the viewing of records of not only police officers, but of firefighters and correction officers as well. Governor Andrew Cuomo said he will sign the bill into law.
“I am glad to see that the state Legislature is allowing the records of police officers with disciplinary problems to be made public,” Mr. Brewington says. “For far too long, they have been protected from scrutiny while being allowed to continue to act unprofessionally. Hopefully, this repeal will force local police departments to engage with minorities in a more respectful manner and remove those who believe they are above the law.”
In addition, Mr. Brewington is a Member of the Advisory Board of the National Police Accountability Project. Click here to see the letter from the group calling for the end of qualified immunity.