Lawmakers in California introduced legislation Tuesday that would heighten the state standard to “necessary” for when it is acceptable for police to use lethal force.
The move comes in the wake of ongoing protests against the March 18 death of Stephon Clark, 22, a Black father of two shot by police in his grandmother’s backyard after officers said they mistook his cell phone for a weapon.
The current standard in use right now is too broad because it lends weight to the fear that can cause police to act abruptly rather than try to deescalate a situation, state Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a Democrat from San Diego pushing the bill, told the Sacramento Bee.
“We want to put it in their mind that there are other options that they should utilize prior to that, that using deadly force is an extreme option,” Weber told the news organization. “That’s force you can’t bring back.”
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The assemblywoman made reference to Stephon Clark, who was shot multiple times in the back, an autopsy report showed.
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“That’s not a reason to kill a person, because they’re breaking in windows,” Weber told the Bee. “People are tired, and I hope it is a point where everybody comes together. Even law enforcement should be tired of having to justify things and want to look at a new way of doing them.”
Strong opposition from organizations representing law enforcement has worked against previous proposed legislation seeking to address police force. Police maintain that such measures could make it more difficult to do their jobs.
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Weber’s bill pushes police to consider alternatives before using force, supporters told the Bee.
“Accountability is a really important part of changing the culture,” said Lizzie Buchen, legislative advocate with the American Civil Liberties Union of California told the news organization.
The ACLU supports the proposed bill.
“What steps could you have taken instead of what you did?” Buchen asked.