By Vikram Balasubramanian
Vikram Balasubramanian is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania studying International Relations.
The United States has been struck with an epidemic of police violence, in which citizens deserving of equal protection under the law are unjustly brutalized by police. Yet, whenever someone tries to hold cops accountable, they are unable to. It is nearly impossible to sue a police officer for damages in the United States. In 2009, in Pearson v. Callahan, the Supreme Court ruled that government officials are protected from lawsuits (as an individual) unless the plaintiff can show that the official violated a “clearly established” constitutional or statutory right.  This is commonly known as the qualified immunity doctrine. Technically, the government can still be sued for damages caused by the official’s actions. However reasonable this might sound, the way it has been applied in court has resulted in a system in which officers are nearly always unaccountable