Tyre Nichols’ horrifying death at the hands of Memphis cops may compel Congress to pass stalled police reform legislation, Sen. Corey Booker said Sunday, though he acknowledged it’s likely to be hard with the House of Representatives in Republican control.
The comments came after he and other Democratic lawmakers met with President Biden on Thursday to discuss a legislative response to Nichols’ January death and numerous incidents like it.
“I think there’s a pathway forward, though I’m very sobered in a divided Congress about our ability to get it done,” Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
The 2020 killing of Black Minnesota man George Floyd by a white police officer prompted the House to pass a bill named after him. It would have banned cop chokeholds and ended “qualified immunity,” which protects officers from certain kinds of lawsuits.
But as the bill floundered in the Senate, Biden signed an executive order with much more modest police reforms.
Details are yet to emerge from Thursday’s meeting at the White House, which featured Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).
But pressed Sunday, Booker voiced optimism over a recent tweet from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that appeared to support ending qualified immunity.
“I oppose civil lawsuits against individual officers,” Graham tweeted Jan. 29. “However, holding police departments accountable makes sense and they should face liability for the misconduct of their officers.”
Booker said he’s had conversations with politicians including Graham since formal discussions on the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” ground to a halt.
“I’m happy that I have Republican colleagues that agree this is wrong,” the Garden State senator said of caught-on-camera police killings, “and we’re trying to work something out.”
With News Wire Services
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