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Missouri lawmaker proposes adding 'abuse of force' charge for police who abuse power

(KY3)
Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 5:55 PM CDT
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Missouri State Representative Ron Hicks, R-Dardenne Prairie, 'backs the blue.'

"I come from a family of law enforcement. I love our thin blue line," Hicks said.

It's clear to him, though, both George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks' deaths at the hands of police in Minneapolis and Atlanta were unacceptable.

"It was pretty blatant. I mean, nine minutes? I don't know of an officer who is trained that way," Hicks said.

That's why he is proposing a law that would give Missouri prosecutors the ability to charge an officer with 'abuse of force' if that officer hurts someone.

"This doesn't say that it's only for if you killed someone or something. It's abuse of force. If you beat someone to the ground when they didn't need to be beat to the ground, that's abuse of force. If you drag someone across the street by their hair, that's abuse of force," Hicks said.

If passed, a guilty officer could face a year in jail with a $2,000 fine for a Class A Misdemeanor, or even spend life in prison if the situation rose to a Class A Felony.

Lake Ozark Police Chief Gary Launderville said the proposal is too broad and open to a lot of interpretation.

"As the one working the front line, having to make split second decisions instead of arm chair quarterbacking later, that just makes me a little nervous," Launderville said.

Representative Crystal Quade, the House Miniority Leader, supports it.

She and her party's Black Caucus sent a letter to Governor Mike Parson last week urging him to add police reform to any special session he calls this year.

"I was thankful to see Representative Hicks put that out there," Quade said. "He's been somebody since I've been working with him over the last couple of years who really has been vocal in this conversation."

Hicks is running for re-election, and said he will file the bill in December for the next legislative session that starts in January.

In a statement to

KY3/KSPR's Andrew Havranek,

Kelli Jones, a spokesperson with Governor Mike Parson's office said,

"Governor Parson is a former sheriff and knows the important role law enforcement plays in keeping Missouri safe. He does not support any initiative that would hinder law enforcement's ability to ensure safety. However, there is always room for improvement. Governor Parson is working with communities and their leaders to learn where improvement is needed."

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