A little over a month after Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was assaulted and beaten by at least five police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, Georgia lawmakers responded by reintroducing legislation that would hold authorities in their own state accountable moving forward.
In a statement, reps. Sandra Scott, Kim Schofield, and Viola Davis recently announced their sponsorship of three bills: House Bill 107, House Bill 112, and House Bill 113, FOX 5 reported today (Feb. 16). The bills were first introduced during a 2021 legislative session.
“We will no longer allow the lack of oversight, accountability, and transparency to be the norm in law enforcement,” Rep. Schofield stated. “No one gets a pass when lives continue to be intentionally taken. Georgians deserve better.”
In the first bill, if passed, all Georgia law enforcement agencies must give every officer a body camera. And when they interact with the public, the camera must be turned on, with only certain footage to be released. The bill also would remove qualified immunity, which has previously protected officers from lawsuits alleging wrongdoing.
On Jan. 27, weeks after Nichols was attacked and died from his injuries, bodycam footage was released and showed the officers taking turns punching and kicking him while his hands remained cuffed behind his back.
The second legislation, also known as the Ethical Policing Act, would require the state to initiate a routine method of “reporting and establishing citizen review boards of police departments statewide.” It would also seek to implement a four-strike system of misconduct and establish yearly reports of complaints and misconduct.
“The Georgia citizens, especially the Black community, were confronted with high profile cases that demonstrated a lack of ethics, accountability, transparency, and justice with law enforcement,” Rep. Davis added. “Many of the high-profile cases have resulted in police officers receiving criminal charges of murder, thus placing a cloud over those in law enforcement that strive to do right and operate lawfully. We must rebuild and restore trust in law enforcement, especially within the black community.”
In Nichols’ case, five of the officers involved in his fatal assault face one count of second-degree murder and a host of other charges.
The third and final bill would be the Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act. It would mandate de-escalation training yearly for peace officers and highlight non-lethal and crisis-intervening strategies.