California Proposes Bill Challenging Use Of Deadly Police Force

The proposed bill seeks to alter the current use of deadly force by the police from “when reasonable” to only “when necessary.”


After the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Stephon Clark, in his own backyard in Sacramento by the police, a new bill in California was inspired to prevent such tragedies in future.

The proposed bill is aptly titled “Police Accountability and Community Protection Act” and it will look to alter the current use of deadly force by the police from “when reasonable” to only “when necessary.”

Sacramento-based Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D) co-authored the bill with fellow Democrat Assemblywoman Shirley Weber with support from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and fellow members of the California Legislative Black Caucus. They were accompanied by Sacramento NAACP leaders and the Black Lives Matter movement representatives, along with Clark’s grandfather.

Assemblyman Christopher Holden (D) listed the names of several black man shot by the police and said, “We should no longer be the target practice of a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ police force.”

Studies reveal the police kill unarmed black man at largely uneven rates as compared to unarmed white man. The co-authors of the new bill hope the proposal, if passed into law, will inculcate the culture of using de-escalation as defense rather than point blank shooting among law enforcement officers.

 McCarty is of the view the current law is backward and is often used to justify “deadly force incidents.”

The ACLU emphasized on the need of the bill so the police know they can also be held accountable for unnecessarily using fatal force.

“While our hearts are broken by tragedies such as these, our resolve to fight for change will never be. Now, more than ever, we must change state laws to ensure that police are held accountable to us,” said Peter Bibring, police practices director with the ACLU in California.

The ACLU alleged more people in California are subjected to police brutality than any other state. In 2017, officers shot fatally shot 162 people in the state, and only half of those victims were armed with guns.

In the aftermath of Clark’s shooting, outraged protestors swarmed streets after the autopsy reports showed the young father was shot at least seven times in his own backyard despite only carrying a cell phone.

If the bill is passed, California will reportedly be the first state to enforce this kind of legislature on police firearms and their use.

Weber seems positive the bill will be passed to hold the police accountable in the future.

“If California can’t do it,” she asked, “who can?”


Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Reuters/ Jason Miczek

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