Bill would require Colorado police to wear body cams, ban chokeholds

Colorado law enforcement agencies may see sweeping changes to how they operate and investigate allegations of police brutality if an accountability bill Democrats plan to introduce Wednesday passes.

The draft bill, which has been obtained by The Denver Post, calls for all police be equipped with body-worn cameras and for recordings to be released to the public within seven days. Other provisions:

  • Creating an annual report with data about use of force, resignations during investigations of violating department policy, stops and unannounced police entries, broken down by agency. The data should be available in a statewide database.
  • Allowing a person who alleges a civil rights violation by police to sue officers in their individual capacity.
  • Prohibiting officers from using chokeholds against people.
  • Preventing officers from using deadly force except when arresting someone or trying to prevent an escape when the person is using a weapon or is likely to imminently kill someone or cause serious bodily injury.
  • Requiring the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board to create and maintain a database about officers who have been decertified, repeatedly failed to follow training requirements or was fired. It also allows the board to revoke certification for failing to meet training requirements.
  • Requiring officers to have objective justification for making stops.
  • Requiring the division of criminal justice in the department of public safety and the POST board to conduct reviews of officer-involved investigations for recommendations and changes of training.

Rep. Leslie Herod, a Denver Democrat, and Senate President Leroy Garcia, a Pueblo Democrat, two of the bills sponsors, announced the bill Tuesday in front of protesters and advocates for police accountability. Protesters have taken to the streets in Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs and across the country pushing for change since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police.

“This isn’t only about what’s going on in other states,” Garcia said, “This is about what’s happening in our own backyards. We shouldn’t need body cams to catch the lack of law enforcement integrity. If we sit idly by and do nothing to address police brutality, the profession’s reputation will continue to erode, and that’s not good for anyone.”

All of the statehouse’s Democrats signed onto the bill as sponsors and many joined the news conference Tuesday, along with family members of people who have been killed by police in Colorado as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights advocates.

Natalia Marshall, the niece of a man who died in the Denver jail in 2015, spoke in support of the bill and police accountability Tuesday.

Michael Marshall was suffering a mental health episode two days after his arrest while in custody on a $100 bond and was killed by sheriff’s deputies. The city agreed to pay his family a $4.6 million settlement.

“I’ll never ever get to see my uncle again, y’all,” Natalia Marshall said. She added: “While these officers get to walk around free.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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