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Alabama state senator wants to ‘punish bad apples’ in law enforcement

Earlier this month, a viral video circulated of a police officer in Reform, Alabama tasing a restrained man. While the officer has since been placed on administrative leave, some community leaders are calling for her termination from the department, as well as legal action against her personally for her alleged misconduct.

State Sen. Merika Coleman, among those who saw the video, says she wants to pass a law that enables local district attorneys to charge a police officer who uses a taser in the line of duty attempting to subdue a suspect who is already restrained with a Class C Felony.

Coleman (D-Birmingham) said she’ll introduce a criminal version of the legislation as well as a civil version. The civil version allows for judges to award compensation if found to be appropriate.

“As we watched, the young man was complying. He was no longer a threat. He was in restraints on the back of a vehicle. And he was still further tased. And so that behavior should not happen,” Coleman told WSFA.

RELATED: Givan to represent tased band director, wants officers placed on leave

Sen. Coleman is also running for Alabama’s newly-drawn Congressional District 2. She recently came under fire for “playing congressional politics” in her announcement of even larger police reform: Requiring officer body camera footage be made available to the public without the approval of a judge.

A draft of her proposed bill states that bodycam footage would be “deemed a public record” and “subject to public inspection otherwise provided by law.”

Coleman said “bad apples” are to blame — and the law doesn’t go far enough to keep them in check.

“We need folks that are there to protect and serve. But we also need to have the tools to be able to reprimand and punish those bad apples that use that position as a police officer wrongly,” Coleman said.

According to the Department of Justice, data shows that approximately 16,000 officers suffer injuries after being assaulted on the job each year. Studies also indicated that officers are far more likely to suffer injuries when force is required to make an arrest.

Sen. Coleman acknowledged getting her proposed reforms passed through the conservative State Legislature will be an “uphill battle” for she and her Democratic colleagues.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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