California Can Make Police Killings Harder to Justify

By Free Radical

Protests after Stephon Clark's helped lead to.

Protests sparked after the killing of Stephon Clark helped lead to California Assembly Bill 392.

California is poised to pass one of the nation’s toughest laws for police to justify deadly force. On Monday, the California Senate passed Assembly Bill 392 which would change the standard for police to use their weapons from “reasonable” to “necessary.” Cops would have to use deescalation tactics such as talking to suspects to determine if suspects are truly a threat or not.

To become law, California Governor Gavin Newsom will have to sign the legislation. He is expected to do just that as he has said that it could “help restore community trust in our criminal justice system.”

The bill is a compromise as law enforcement lobbyists successfully removed a provision that would make police criminally liable if their conduct did not meet the law’s standard of “necessary.”

The legislation comes amid a report that California has had fewer officer related killings in 2018. In this year there were 146 such deaths according to the California state attorney general’s office. In 2017 there were 172 and in 2016 there were 157.

Nonetheless, the state has still had highly publicized police killings. On March 18, 2018 police killed Stephon Clark in the Sacramento backyard of his grandmother. He was shot seven times, with three entry wounds in the back. The officers who killed Clark claim that they believe that he had a gun though no weapon was found on the scene. They were not indicted for Clark’s murder.

California also consistently has some of the highest numbers of police killings across the country.

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