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New rules agreement reached in California: NPR



California Highway Patrol officers block an interstate entry as protesters march. Police use of lethal force became a focus of California lawyers after the District Attorney refused to prosecute the officers who killed shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man whose death emitted demonstrations in the state and across the country.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images


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California Highway Patrol officers block an interstate entry as protesters march. Police use of lethal force became a focus of California lawyers after the District Attorney refused to prosecute the officers who killed shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man whose death emitted demonstrations in the state and across the country.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Pictures

Civil Rights Defenders and Law Enforcement Groups have entered into an agreement in the California Legislature on new rules on when police can use lethal force.

The problem has been a focus of many social justice advocates in California in the spring after the Sacrament District District Attorney refused to prosecute those officers who killed shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man whose death derived headlines and demonstrations across the country.

Under the agreement announced Thursday, officers will only be able to use lethal force when needed "and if there are no other options.

It is generally considered to be higher than the existing legal standard: the use of lethal force is legally, if a "reasonable" officer would have acted similarly in that situation.

But bill language leaves a specific definition of "necessary" which would leave interpretation up to the legal system to find out on a case by case basis. [19659008] The action is now expected to hand over the assembly by next week.

"We can now move a policy forward that saves lives and changes the police culture in California. "Assembly lady Shirley Weber, who introduced the bill, wrote in a statement.

Law enforcement groups have lost their opposition and are now neutral on the bill." We appreciate your consideration of our concerns and thanks and your employees to work with the CPCA This Critical Problem, "wrote the California Police Chiefs Association in a letter to Weber Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a leading advocate of helping negotiate the bill, praised the deal." If this bill passes and is signed by the governor , California will have one of the most restrictive laws of the nation in the nation – if not the most restrictive, "ACLU's Lizzie Buchen said.

The proposed law also states that an officer's conduct leading up to the admission will be Considered – but also it will suspect behavior, and there are languages ​​in the bill that require the police to use other alternatives, such as de-escalation or "Lethal" opportunities before using lethal force. But these requirements are a declaration of intent, not a specific checklist.

"The general idea is that we want the police to see if they can avoid the fatal meeting," says Robert Weisberg, a criminal professor at Stanford Law School .

He says that the agreement that the two parties have made represents the middle area he thought they would inevitably reach.

He added that the definition of the new "necessary" legal standard "will be very, very difficult for the courts" – and also for officers.

For example. An officer can guess their decision making. "If I let this person go, what's the risk?" "Weisberg said about an officer's thought process." It's certain I'm allowed to limit him, and I may be worried that he might commit another crime. But let's make a change here. If I continue in arrest, this may escalate to something fatal. "" [19659008] The agreement also includes an accompanying bill supported by law enforcement agencies setting new statewide "best practices" and training for the use of power standards. The state budget under negotiation is expected to give new money to pay for that education.

The two sides have been negotiating since an earlier use of force bill failed last summer and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins called the negotiating table in subsequent months. The speakers were halted in February, as each side introduced its own measure. But they resumed in recent weeks when it became clear that no expense had sufficient support to pass on their own.

Atkins says she has committed to her colleague Weber not to stop working on the application of force legislation. "We spent countless hours as soon as the session ended last year right up to today bringing the various groups together so that we could begin the difficult conversations needed to reach a negotiated agreement," she said. "Doing something was not an option."

It took the active participation of Atkins & # 39; office and assembly speaker Anthony Rendon and Gavin Newsom to secure the deal. Atkins and Rendon are now leading co-authors of AB 392.

"This is an important bill that will help restore community faith in our criminal justice system," the governor wrote in a statement.

Rendon praised Weber's moral strength in moving the bill to this point. "" We need this decision to save lives, protect public security and ensure justice in all societies, "he wrote.

The bill can still receive minor changes in the Senate, but the deal reached Thursday seen by all sides like the final framework – not an incremental agreement to move the bill to future debate.


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