A son and nephew was killed by Columbus police for no good reason
Jones' family

Hours after Ohio’s Issue 1 went down in the August special election, Secretary of State Frank LaRose “sounded the alarm” on Fox News about the latest proposed constitutional amendment to end Qualified Immunity for law enforcement.

Sore loser LaRose told Fox, “They’re trying to turn Ohio into California [and] now they’re coming after our police.” In reality, no one is “coming after” police and by the way, what is so scary about California?

What LaRose knows and refused to mention is that the effort to end Qualified Immunity in Ohio has been ongoing for well over half a decade.

The Ohio Coalition to End Qualified Immunity (OCEQI) was inspired by the shooting death of 30-year-old Kareem Ali Nadir Jones in 2017. Jones was killed after he was approached by Columbus police for no good reason (family members pictured above). The police body cam video of Kareem’s death can be viewed here.

This latest submission of ballot language for approval is OCEQI’s third attempt to get on a future ballot. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office denied the two earlier ballot language submissions. Each submission costs thousands of dollars and many hours of work by the OCEQI.

Qualified Immunity protects government workers from civil lawsuits even when they clearly violate someone’s constitutional rights. It is often cited as the reason police are rarely punished for shooting civilians. Over 700 Ohio families have also lost a loved one since the turn of the century to police violence.

Jones’s aunt and OCEQI spokesperson Cynthia Brown of Columbus says they’ve had to go the citizen-initiated ballot route because after several years of shopping a bill Ohio Statehouse it never panned out, even though members of the Ohio GOP initially told her they would seriously consider a bill to end Qualified Immunity.

Brown says the Ohio GOP is now in “panic mode.”

“Our mission is to replace Qualified Immunity with professional liability insurance,” she says. “This will weed out the bad officers. Ricky Anderson [the officer who killed Donovan Lewis] had over 60 complaints. No one is going to insure an officer with a complaint record like that.”

The OCEQI is not “anti-police,” Brown finds herself repeatedly insisting. They are against “police killings of unarmed innocent people, the lies and the cover-up.”

Brown adds they are also not against any future Ohio “Cop City” if this law enforcement training center includes de-escalation training, racial bias training and training to better handle “Terry Stops,” which allows the police to briefly detain a person based on reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminal activity.

Some of OCEQI’s financial supporters include the founders of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Americans For Prosperity, the National Campaign to End Qualified Immunity and Campaign Zero.

Brown understands taking money from the libertarian and conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity may not sit well with Ohio progressives. But Brown says Americans For Prosperity have told her if a so-called Cop City were built in Ohio, they would demand de-escalation training be implemented.

What doesn’t make any sense is there is currently no uniform policy across the state mandating de-escalation training once an officer graduates from their initial training. Instead, it is up to each department to initiate such training, and activists say many do not.

“Some departments have that as part of their cadet academy, but it’s not in the Ohio Revised Code [ORC] that it’s required,” says Emily Cole, executive director of Ohio Families Unite for Political Action and Change (OFUPAC).

OFUPAC is the lobbyist arm of Ohio Families Unite Against Police Brutality, which was founded by Sabrina Jordan of Dayton who lost her son to police brutality in 2017.

“Mandatory de-escalation training is not in the ORC for police,” says Cole. “It is mandatory for mental health professionals and for a certain number of people in the school system.”

Local 10TV reported that their investigation into qualified immunity found that “the city uses the state's immunity law to deny paying for damages in crashes involving police.” NBC4 noted that “The amendment would also make it so if a person wins a case against the government, a judge would order that either the state or its political subdivision take ‘reasonable measures to prevent a similar rights violation from recurring.’”

Brown says if “there had been effective de-escalation training programs in place in Columbus, Kareem Ali Nadir Jones would almost certainly be alive today.”

Brown also believes if the two officers who killed her nephew had not been protected by Qualified Immunity and instead holding professional liability insurance, he would be alive today, as well.