April 24, 2018

Bill aimed at reducing use of lethal force introduced in Califor

06 April 2018, 01:46 | Darrell Baldwin

California lawmakers propose legislation restricting when police can shoot

California Lawmakers Seek Change in Police Lethal Force Standard After Stephon Clark Shooting

"The legislation would shift the current "reasonable force" rule to a "necessary force" standard", according to the AP.

Numerous legislative attempts to improve transparency over California law enforcement personnel records and body camera footage have stalled over the last several years.

Opponents of the bill have expressed concern that limiting the use of force could make an officer's job more risky.

California Assembly member and former California Highway Patrol officer Tom Lackey told CBS News' Carter Evans changing the standard could place an unreasonable burden on officers in unsafe situations.

The results of an independent autopsy of Clark commissioned by Clark's family revealed he had been struck by eight bullets.

PORAC says it wants to work with lawmakers on Weber's bill, but it is already signaling that it won't accept an increase in the threshold to allow for the use of deadly force.

California is now one of several states with a "reasonable fear" statute, so juries only have to believe that a police officer had a "reasonable fear" that his or her life was in danger in order not to convict an officer conviction in a shooting. Frequently it's because of the doctrine of reasonable fear: If prosecutors or jurors believe that officers have a reason to fear for their safety, they can use force up to and including lethal force. The Associated Press first reported the legislation, which is supported by the ACLU and other groups. "It doesn't mean there has to have been a threat".

The new proposal would warrant that police officers hold off on approaching a suspect who could possess a weapon until backup arrives, or it could force police to give explicit verbal warnings that suspects will be killed unless they drop the weapon, Buchen said. In that ruling, the court said police force should be deemed "reasonable" under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ─ which protects against unlawful search and seizure ─ only by judging "from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight" and by taking into consideration "split-second judgments" about "the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation". 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. That wasn't the case with Clark, he said, when the officers say they suddenly confronted a man they mistakenly thought was pointing a gun.

The bill would make California the first state to restrict when officers can open fire.

Cities' strict standards are generally for situations where there is time to de-escalate volatile situations, such as with people who are mentally unstable, Obayashi said.

Advocates of the legislation say they hope the bill will spur local agencies to review their own policies on use of force.

Officers fatally shot 162 people in California a year ago, only half of whom had guns, the lawmakers said.

Studies show that when officers operate under more restrictive policies, not only are they less likely to kill suspects, they are less likely to be assaulted or killed themselves.

Demonstrations have broken out in California since reports of the shooting.

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