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House OKs 'Joshua's Law'

State representatives voted 140-0 Wednesday night in favor of a bill that prohibits first responders from photographing victims at accident and crime scenes or forwarding such photos to others.

Dubbed "Joshua's Law," the legislation is a response to a 2009 incident in which a New London police officer used a cell phone to photograph a young man who had died of a heroin overdose at the Red Roof Inn. The officer, Jeffrey Nichols, also forwarded the photos.

The bill sets penalties of up to a year in prison or a fine of up to $2,000. The Senate voted 29-5 this month to pass the legislation, which now goes to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to sign.

"We're protecting the privacy and the dignity of victims," said Rep. Steve Mikutel, D-Griswold.

Nichols was fired from the department on July 13, 2009, and later reinstated after the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration ruled that termination was too severe a punishment.

The 21-year-old overdose victim was Joshua Rogers, a Connecticut National Guard member who was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan. His Waterford parents have been outspoken supporters of the measure.

The Rogers family sued Nichols and the city of New London on claims of invasion of privacy and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The family has said their lawsuit is "on hold" for passage of the bill.

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