The swath of killings involving unarmed black men in the United States has led many people to ask the question, ‘What is a reasonable use of force?’ Naturally, there isn’t an easy way to answer such a query, and depending on who you ask (i.e., police officer or average citizen) you might get totally different answers; however, it is hard to ignore an essential question, ‘Is the perception of fear—warranted or not—just cause to take another’s life?’
There is a long list of people who are no longer alive because a police officer exercised what he or she believed was reasonable force, just in the last five years alone. In the case of Trayvon Martin, his life came to an end when a member of the neighborhood watch felt it necessary to protect the streets. In either type of scenario, police or “upright citizen,” there are severe concerns in every state about justified use of force.
National worry about ‘reasonable’ use of force by police extends far beyond cases involving firearms; there are numerous instances when academy-taught forms of restraint result in loss of life. But, and by and large, most people want answers as to why police officers are using their service weapon to stop unarmed people? Some will say that it is poor police training, others will adduce race and racism as the cause for “un-reasonable” use of force; while it may be impossible to get to the root cause in every case, most would agree that something needs to give.
California Assembly Bill 931
Bringing about changes in police practices isn’t an easy task, and there isn’t a guarantee that the Federal government will step in to ensure public safety. Whenever police departments are sued for wrongdoing, things rarely go the way that the pursuant hopes; what’s more, police officers suspected of wrongdoing, by and large, don’t serve any significant length of time. Without making examples out of individual officers, it is unlikely others will change their ways.
In the wake of several cases of excessive force, legislators in California put forward Assembly Bill 931, The Los Angeles Times reports. AB 931 would allow police to use deadly force only when it’s “necessary” to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death; lethal force would be justified if, given the totality of the circumstances, there were no reasonable alternative, i.e., warnings, verbal persuasion, and other nonlethal methods of resolution or de-escalation. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean and Jesse H. Choper distinguished professor of law at the UC Berkeley School of Law, states:
“Being a police officer is unquestionably a dangerous job that often requires split-second life-and-death decisions. But too many have died and been seriously injured from unnecessary police use of deadly force. Reforming the laws that set the standards is essential and California can lead the way.”
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges, please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. With over 30 years of experience, attorney Brower can give you the best chance of finding a favorable outcome.