(April 13) – The House gave bipartisan final approval today to two bills in the “rebuilding trust” package of legislation to repair relations between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
Under HB15-1286, sponsored by Reps. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, and Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, a court may reverse a decision not to prosecute in a case of alleged police misconduct resulting in death or serious injury if it finds the prosecutor’s decision was an “abuse of discretion” rather than the current “arbitrary or capricious and without reasonable excuse” standard.
Rep. Salazar argued that the current standard was “impossibly high.” He noted that since 1987 only two Colorado law enforcement officers had been prosecuted on excessive force charges. “What this bill does is it changes the calculus a little bit,” he told the House during second-reading debate on Friday.
Rep. Kagan said the bill was intended to address the “unusual pressures on prosecutors that are not present in other cases” – the clamor for, or against, prosecution of police officers who are involved in shootings.
HB15-1286 passed on a 40-24 vote.
The House also voted 44-20 for HB15-1291, sponsored by Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora. It prohibits the use of a chokehold by a law enforcement officer unless the officer is acting to prevent death or serious injury.
“We’ve seen this on the national news, but more importantly we’ve seen this in Colorado,” Rep. Melton told the chamber on Friday, citing the 2010 death of Marvin Booker after he was put in a chokehold by Denver sheriff’s deputies. “We want to prevent this from happening again.”
Receiving voice-vote House approval this morning was HB15-1288, Rep. Angela Williams’ bill updating the state’s prohibition against profiling to include not just race, but national origin, nationality, language, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and disability. It also clarifies that evidence obtained in the course of a profiling-motivated traffic stop or pedestrian stop will be inadmissible in court.
“Racial profiling is a major violation of equality under the law, and we won’t stand for it,” said Rep. Williams, D-Denver. “You can’t understand the impact of racial profiling unless you’ve been racially profiled.”