Eric Adams, New York City’s Democratic mayoral nominee and a heavy favorite to win November’s election, said Sunday that cops who follow their department’s rules should be shielded from lawsuits for actions on the job — except for “reckless” conduct like in the death of George Floyd.
“I support it with an asterisk,” Adams, a former cop, said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” when asked about his stance on a potential federal measure on qualified immunity, which Democrats in Congress are mulling repealing as part of their police reform legislation.
Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that shields government officials such as police officers from being personally liable in civil suits if they did not violate the law.
Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, said Sunday that if an officer abides by the rules and regulations to which they’re subject, civilians should not be able reap monetary damages from them.
“I don’t believe a police officer who’s carrying out his job within the manner in which he was trained to do so should be open to a lawsuit,” he told host Jake Tapper. “If he’s chasing an armed person who’s discharging a weapon, and that police officer discharges his weapon and an innocent person is struck by that weapon, we should not have that officer open to a lawsuit.”
But Adams said supports a federal repeal of a law that exempts police officers from civil liabilities while policing in cases where an officer is out of line, like former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin.
“When you look at the case of the Floyd case, when clearly the officer when went beyond his scope of responsibility, that officer should be open to a lawsuit,” Adams explained.
“So I don’t believe we should be suing officers who are doing their job, and some of the hazards of that job, but those who step outside those boundaries, and recklessly carry an act that causes [loss of] life, a serious injury, they should be open to being sued, personally.”
After the City Council passed a measure repealing qualified immunity for NYPD officers, Adams in April said it’s “imperative” to lift qualified immunity for misbehaving officers.
“It’s imperative to remove the qualified immunity, particularly with officers who recklessly disregard the role that they are carrying out,” said the retired NYPD captain in an April 24 CBS interview. “But we should do it in a manner that we do not go after officers who are carrying out lawful actions.”
Also Sunday, Adams praised President Biden for addressing everyday gun violence inflicted by people in predominantly black cities using hand guns — rather than focusing on the assault rifles used in less frequent mass shootings.
“I believe those priorities, they really were misplaced, and it’s almost insulting but we have witnessed over the last few years,” he said on CNN. “They knew they were dealing with this real crisis, and it took this president to state that it is time for us to stop ignoring what is happening in the South Side of Chicagos, in the Brownsvilles, in the Atlantas of our country.”
Meanwhile, the likely success to Mayor Bill de Blasio advised that even vaccinated New Yorkers should wear face coverings while indoors.
“I believe we should err on the side of being cautious,” he said on CNN.
“Whatever we can do to ensure that we don’t repeat the pandemic experience that we had, we should lean into that.”
Adams on ABC continued his national TV victory lap Sunday morning, again proclaiming that Democrats nationwide should learn a lesson from his victory.
“We can’t be so idealistic that we’re not realistic,” he said.
Asked by anchor George Stephanopoulos if, given his moderate stances on policing and other matters, it’s appropriate to call him an “anti-woke Democrat,” Adams quipped, “Some of us never went to sleep.”
“I’ve never went to sleep.”