INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House approved a bill
Thursday laying out when people are justified in using force against
police officers, a measure reacting to the public uproar over a state
Supreme Court decision over the rights of the public to resist police.
voted 74-24 in favor of the proposal that says residents are protected by
the state's self-defense law if they reasonably believe force is necessary
to protect themselves from unlawful actions by an officer.
It also states
that a person who is committing a crime is not justified in using any
force against a police officer — a change made this week after police and
prosecutor groups told lawmakers they worried the proposal as previously
written would spark more violence toward officers.
said the proposal strengthened the legal rights of people against
government agents improperly entering their homes.
"This is the
bedrock of all the freedoms that every United States citizen enjoys," said
Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville.
Supreme Court ruling that residents couldn't resist officers even during
an illegal entry brought Indiana law in line with most other states. But
about 250 people rallied at the Statehouse, contending the decision
infringed on their constitutional rights and contradicted centuries of
common law precedent regarding homeowners' rights and the limits of police
argued Thursday that the Legislature shouldn't give people justification
for attacking officers,
DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, said the Supreme Court had drawn a "bright line"
protecting police and that the public can contest illegal police actions
in court or seek to have rogue officers disciplined.
this goes much too far and is capable of being misunderstood," DeLaney
Rep. Linda Lawson of Hammond, a former police officer, told House members
they shouldn't back a measure that could lead to an "open season" by
criminals against officers who are willing to sacrifice their lives to
protect the public.
approved a different version of the bill in January, and House and Senate
negotiators must agree on a single version of the bill by the end of next
week, when legislative leaders expect to adjourn this year's session.
Court's decision stemmed from a case in which an Evansville man was
convicted of misdemeanor resisting arrest for blocking and shoving a
police officer who tried to enter his home without a warrant after his
wife called 911 during an argument. The man was shocked with a stun gun
and arrested. His wife told officers he hadn't hit her.
The House bill
outlines circumstances when a "person is justified in using reasonable
force against a law enforcement officer," which include protecting oneself
or another person from the use of unlawful force and preventing an illegal
entry of one's home or vehicle.
specifies that the use of deadly force against a police officer is not
justified unless the person reasonably believes the officer is acting
illegally and the deadly force is needed to prevent serious injury to
themselves or another person.
House Speaker Brian Bosma said the Legislature can't stop people intent on
attacking police officers, but that the proposal would better guide courts
and juries in cases where an officer's actions are questioned.
clarifies that we're back to the same standard that we had in this
country, in this state, for more than 200 years," Bosma said.