California law enforcement has been trying to fend off tighter restrictions on the use of deadly force. But police unions lost a round on Tuesday when the state Legislature gutted parts of a bill they were pushing.
Until this week, California legislators were debating two competing pieces of legislation as they faced calls for reforming the state’s use-of-force laws.
Assembly Bill 392, backed by anti-police activists, has been called the toughest standard in the nation for when police can use deadly force. It was written months after Sacramento police shot Stephon Clark, a vehicle burglary suspect, after a foot pursuit when they mistook his cell phone for a gun. The shooting occurred in a dark residential backyard. Evidence shows it was likely a case of "suicide by cop."
Related Story: Was the Stephon Clark Shooting a "Suicide by Cop?"
Senate Bill 230, backed by law enforcement, attempted to codify into state law long-standing federal legal standards that justify deadly force when an average officer would find it reasonable to use.
In a move that surprised many on both sides, a Senate legislative committee Tuesday removed all mention of use of force from Senate Bill 230, leaving the activist-backed Assembly measure as the only option for legislators to consider and forcing police to either negotiate on new rules or oppose any change.
Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, told audience members at the packed gathering that the “majority of (committee) members are not willing to put into law the use-of-force standard as it exists today” and as written in SB 230, because it is “antiquated, inadequate and unjust,” the Los Angeles Times reports.