Friday, 19 July, 2019

California Eyes Lethal Force Law After Shootings By Police

California Eyes Lethal Force Law After Shootings By Police California Eyes Lethal Force Law After Shootings By Police
Anna Jefferson | 04 April, 2018, 10:28

"The tougher proposed standard could require officers to delay confronting a suspect they fear may be armed until backup arrives or force police to give explicit verbal warnings that suspects will be killed unless they drop the weapon", said Buchen of the ACLU.

"We just have some thoughts that to assume right now that an officer does not consider all other reasonable alternatives before resorting to deadly force is, I think, somewhat inaccurate", Rundle said.

But some in law enforcement called the proposal irresponsible and unworkable.

Supporters of the sweeping reform bill say current law has "given legal cover" to officers and prevented them from being held accountable or charged in past fatal shootings.

State lawmakers proposed a bill Tuesday that would change the current "reasonable force" rule to "necessary force".

Activist groups cheered the announcement of Weber's bill Tuesday. The legislation would change the standard from using "reasonable force" to "necessary force".

Under current law, police can use deadly force whenever an "objectively reasonable" officer would have done so under the same circumstances - regardless of whether there was an immediate threat to life or bodily security, or whether there were available alternatives. "Concealing crucial public safety matters such as officer violations of civilians' rights, or inquiries into deadly use of force incidents, undercuts the public's faith in the legitimacy of law enforcement, makes it harder for tens of thousands of hardworking peace officers to do their jobs and endangers public safety". Samuel Sinyangwe, co-founder of Campaign Zero, the policy arm of the Black Lives Matter movement, said no state now takes into account officers' actions leading to killings when determining whether to prosecute.

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The bill would also "establish that a homicide by a peace officer is not justified if the officer's gross negligence contributed to making the force 'necessary'".

Naturally, this would make some law enforcement officers nervous, as the proposed change would open officers up to discipline, firing, or even prosecution if the standard was not met. If prosecutors or jurors believe that officers have a reason to fear for their safety, they can use deadly force.

If the bill becomes law, Lally said, "it will either get cops killed or allow criminals to terrorize our streets unchecked".

Ron Hernandez, the president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, had similarly strong words.

The largest law enforcement organization in California calls proposed changes to the use-of-force law a "dangerous rush to judgment". But without Sacramento's strict requirements for police transparency, beefed up two years ago in response to community outrage, Jones arguably might not have answered any questions at all.

"African-Americans in this country and in the great state of California feel a target is on their back by police and the justice system", said Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden, who is the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. Lawmakers also cited disparities in how police have used deadly force against black people who turned out to be unarmed compared with other situations, including a 2015 incident in which police took into custody a white man who had killed nine attendees of a historically black church in SC. An investigation into their conduct is underway by Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and is being overseen by the state attorney general's office.

The lawmakers and ACLU point to a 2016 study by policy analyst and racial justice advocate Samuel Sinyangwe that analyzed use-of-force policies by major US police departments.

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