New “Duty to Intervene” Law for Police in Connecticut
How This Could Impact Wrongful Death/Personal Injury Claims and Civil Suits
This past October, Connecticut governor Ned Lamont signed a “duty to intervene” law in response to the protests against racial injustice and police brutality. This law was part of an omnibus of other police reforms and gives officers a duty to intervene if they see a fellow officer use excessive force on a civilian. Police officers in Connecticut who witness another officer using unreasonable force are now required by law to intervene and file a report. If a police officer sees excessive force being used and does not intervene then they could be charged. However, this new law does not apply to undercover police officers if they witness excessive force while undercover.
One of the largest impacts this law could have on personal injury cases is that if an officer witnesses this brutality, and does stop it, they could be held liable for damages. It could also apply to wrongful death cases if the altercation results in a loss of life.
Qualified immunity is intended to protect police officers who make mistakes that were deemed reasonable in judgement at the time of the incident. However, this new law has made changes to qualified immunity. It is now easier to make claims and file lawsuits against police officers who act inappropriately. Officers will be able to be held liable for malicious acts; and while this change will not take effect until July 2021, it will have a huge impact on future cases and claims. Civilians will be able hold police officers more accountable for their conduct and will have an easier time taking legal action. Lawmakers still have time to change the language of the law and close any loopholes before it goes into effect next July.
The “duty to intervene” law also offers protections to officers who are now required by law to report and intervene when excessive force is used. Officers who prevent and report these incidents are protected by state whistleblower laws. This means that retaliation against the officer is forbidden, and if a case is opened then that officer could testify without fear of repercussions.
Contact an Attorney if Excessive Force Led to Your Injuries
When a police officer oversteps their bounds and causes injury to you or a family member without justification, they should be held liable for any injuries you suffered. If you are curious as to how this new Connecticut law could impact your case, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today. An attorney could answer your questions and help guide you through your options going forward.