In 16 bill package, Democrats push to ban chokeholds by Michigan police, GOP calls it overreaction

More than a year after George Floyd was killed as Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck and Breonna Taylor was shot to death while sleeping inside her apartment, Democrats in Michigan are pushing a package of bills to address police brutality and racial disparities. But Republicans aren't so quick to agree.

House Democrats introduced the 16-bill package on Tuesday that would, in part, ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants, require police to use body cameras, and permit citizens to sue police officers who use excessive force.

"Over 1,127 people were killed last year by police. Only 16 officers were ever charged with a crime. That's one percent." said Rep. Felicia Brabac (D-Ann Arbor).

Standing along Brabac was Tawanna Gordon, Breonna Taylor's cousin, who said the mothers of the victims should be considered.

"We ask Michigan politicians to consider all the mothers in this country - Black and brown - who are not able to go back to normal after their loved one has had their life cut short due to police brutality and excessive use of force that is outdated. Normal does not exist for them anymore," Gordon said.

But Republican Representative Graham Filler said the Democrats are launching this bill package in the wrong way.

"Starting a bill package with a press conference and no republican support in a republican majority sounds like a recipe for that legislation withering on the vine," Filler said.

The Republican chair of the House Judiciary Committee counters that chokeholds are not taught in Michigan and suing police officers will discourage those who want to join. He calls the package an overreaction to national events.

"When one or two or three bad instances sort of quote-unquote define law enforcement to a national and state audience, then I think we've really lost perspective. I will always say that making legislation, making snap legislation based on a couple of bad instances is bad," he said.

Filler went as far as to say there he does not believe this is an issue that needs to be addressed in Michigan.

"Yes. I absolutely agree. There is not a problem in Michigan," he said.

State Rep. Tenisha Yancy (D-Highland Park) said that just because a George Floyd or Breonna Taylor death hasn't happened here, doesn't mean this isn't a problem.

"While these headlines grabbing police brutality incidents did not happen in Michigan, that does not mean they are isolated incidents and we do not have anything that we need to protect here in our state. here in Michigan, we have had our own cases," Yancy said.

Rep. Yancy reports the two GOP legislative leaders like some elements of the package but not all of them so a bi-partisan vote on the 16 bills is not apparent today.