California proposal would limit when officers can open fire

California proposal would limit when officers can open fire

The family of a 22-year-old unarmed black man fatally shot by Sacramento officers says a proposed California law could mean more young African-Americans survive confrontations with police. When that failed, SMPD said officers opened fire and killed the man when he lunged at them with the knife.

The new bill would require that "police officers only use deadly force when it is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death".

"Now, more than ever, we must change state laws to ensure that police are held accountable to us", Peter Bibring, police practices director with the ACLU in California, said in a statement. "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".

The Peace Officers Research Association of California, which is the largest law enforcement organization in California, released a statement Tuesday calling the proposed changes a "dangerous rush to judgment". One psychologist even teaches police to be afraid of every encounter with citizens; when they shoot people, he serves as an expert witness to convince juries that the officer was justified because he or she was afraid.

Officers already use deadly force only when necessary and are taught to try to defuse unsafe situations first when possible, said Ed Obayashi, a Plumas County, Calif., sheriff's deputy and special prosecutor who trains officers and testifies in court on police use of force.

The legislation would change the standard from using "reasonable force" to "necessary force".

"We call on the rest of the Legislature and Governor Brown to support the Police Accountability and Community Protection Act (Weber) and SB 1421 (Skinner), to protect the people of California and hold officers accountable for their actions". Uses of force incidents occur quickly, and while we have always supported greater training and body cameras, this legislation takes a risky new step. However, authorities only found a cellphone at the scene.

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The ACLU is also sponsoring another law enforcement reform bill introduced following Clark's death. "They may be able to wake up" the next day, said Clark's uncle, family spokesman Curtis Gordon. A number of cities and police agencies have adopted stricter standards, including Chicago, he said, though some police groups have opposed the measures as potentially putting officers' lives at risk.

Several black community leaders at the news conference called the proposal "a good first step".

California is one of the most secretive states in the country when it comes to police use of force and misconduct records, the ACLU claimed.

In 2017, police shot and killed 162 people in California, only half of whom were armed with guns.

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The unarmed black man was shot and killed by Sacramento Police in the backyard of his grandmother's home.

This article was reported by The Associated Press.

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