Sacramento, CA (Sacratmento Bee) — Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a proposal that would restrict the circumstances under which California police officers could use deadly force.
Assembly Bill 931, which would raise the standard for lethal use of force from “reasonable” to “necessary,” passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on an initial vote of 5-1.
It was the first hearing for the controversial measure, which has raised sharp objections from law enforcement groups that contend it would put officers’ lives in danger. Under the bill, deadly force could be justified only if there were no reasonable alternatives.
“We ask officers to run toward danger and sacrifice their safety,” Cory Salzillo of the California State Sheriffs’ Association said. It would be “unfair” to ask them to do so when an after-the-fact analysis might undermine their actions in the field, he added.
Supporters filled the committee room, many of them carrying pictures of friends and family members who had been killed by police. Several lawmakers expressed that the bill was necessary to address a deeper problem of racism in policing.
“It always blows me away that law enforcement only fear for their life when they are facing black and brown people,” Sen. Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, said.
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, introduced AB 931 in April, after the death of Stephon Clark in south Sacramento. Clark was shot 20 times in his backyard by police officers who said they thought the cellphone in his hand was a gun.