Even without “Qualified Immunity,” It Won’t Be Easy to Prove When Police Are Abusive
As mentioned on the Mises Wire this past June, the State of Colorado passed a broad set of police reforms, including removing qualified immunity protections for any police officer who “causes … the deprivation” of another person’s rights under the Colorado Bill of Rights. Will this help improve police accountability? A recently filed lawsuit against the City of Aurora may help answer this question.
On August 2, 2020, Britney Gilliam, a 29-year-old food service worker at the Denver County Jail, went on an outing with her 6-year-old daughter, 17-year-old sister and two nieces aged 14 and 12. They planned to get their nails done and get ice cream. When they arrived at the nail salon, they found it was closed and, while in the parking lot, Gilliam used her phone to find an open salon. A police car pulled into the parking lot and two officers of the Aurora Police Department (APD) approached their SUV with guns drawn.
The officers demanded they exit the vehicle without explanation. Their license plate scanner erroneously told them that the SUV was stolen—while the numbers matched, it was actually a Montana-registered motorcycle that had been reported as stolen. Despite Gilliam offering to show the officers her registration to demonstrate that she was the legal owner of the SUV, they ignored her. Instead, they forced Gilliam and all of the children to lay face first on the asphalt. A bystander captured a video. More officers arrived. Gilliam and the chil
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