Washington • The House approved legislation Thursday that would make killing a state or local police officer an aggravating factor that juries and judges would consider in death penalty cases.
Under current law, killing a federal law enforcement officer is already an aggravating factor in death penalty deliberations. The bill's supporters say it's important to apply that standard to the murder of state and local law enforcement and other first responders, too, because it sends a message of accountability.
The vote was 271-143.
Some lawmakers and civil rights groups said the legislation would ignore racial biases in imposing the death penalty. They also called the legislation duplicative since the killing of any police officer likely meets one of the other 16 aggravating factors that federal juries already consider in death penalty cases.