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Politics

Coalition Moving To Eliminate Qualified Immunity For Ohio Police Officers

Columbus Police vehicles outside the division headquarters.
David Holm
/
WOSU
Columbus Police vehicles outside the division headquarters.

A group has taken the first step to ask voters next year to eliminate qualified immunity for police officers and other government employees accused of shootings or other actions.

The group calling itself Accountability Ohio Now filed paperwork Monday, and then gathered to promote the issue in front of the Statehouse.

Among those who came out to support it included family members of people who died in police shootings, community activists with Black Lives Matter flags, the far-right and armed Boogaloo Boys and libertarians.

Spike Cohen was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate last year and lives in South Carolina. He said he flew in to join the cause of ending the civil defense for police officers and other public sector workers they were "just doing their jobs."

“By being able to do that, they aren’t held accountable. And what this would do is, it would disallow them from doing that. They would have to defend themselves on the merits of the case," Cohen said.

Law enforcement groups are largely opposed to eliminating qualified immunity, saying police actions in volatile situations are complex but that officers who act within the law should be protected.

The group filed its petition language with the Ohio Attorney General’s office. If it’s certified, the group would have to gather more than 440,000 signatures from 44 counties to get it on the next year’s ballot.