ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The fight against police brutality heads to Annapolis, where advocates are pushing for laws to hold officers accused of misconduct accountable.
Derek Valcourt has more on the push for changes in the wake of some recent claims of brutality in Maryland.READ MORE: Laurel Park Cancels Monday Card Due To 'Lingering Effects' Of Winter Weather
It has been a hot button issue for Baltimore City, which has paid out millions of dollars in police brutality claims in recent years. Now advocates say it’s time to address the issue statewide.
WJZ exclusive cell phone video of a city officer poking and then punching a 19-year-old launched a police internal investigation. It now draws criticism from groups like the ACLU of Maryland.
“The officer from what I saw in that video looked to be the aggressor there,” said Sara Love, ACLU.
Advocates gathered in Annapolis Thursday are fighting against what they see as even more severe cases of police brutality, including the death of Marion Gray Hopkins’ son, Gary Hopkins Jr.
Valcourt: “What happened to your son?”
Hopkins: “One gunshot wound to the chest.”
And Dale Graham’s death at the hands of a Baltimore police officer in 2008.READ MORE: Former Mayor Young To Appear At Press Conference With Mosby's Attorney
“He got gunned down. Shot five times,” said Darlene Cain, Graham’s mother.
So many alleged brutality cases across Maryland, civil rights advocates argue new laws are needed to hold police accountable.
Those advocates are pushing for not one, but a trio of bills they say would help with issues around police brutality.
Their top priority is changing the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, which allows an officer accused of a crime up to ten days to face interrogation. Another bill calls for the independent state prosecutor’s office to investigate any deaths caused by police. A third would regulate the use of police body cameras throughout Maryland.
Baltimore City police are already moving ahead with body cameras.
Valcourt: “Why are these bills so important?”
Hopkins: “They are protecting the police officers, but no one’s protecting us.”
“The system is not working right now, and there’s a real crisis of confidence because people feel that the police don’t have to live by the same rules,” said Love.
Changes to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights will face some big time opposition from police unions in Maryland who have called the proposals unconscionable.MORE NEWS: Maryland Weather: Snow Clears Out, But Wind & Flood Threats Remain
Hearings on some of the bills happened late Thursday afternoon. None of the bills have been voted on yet.