Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 392 into law, redefining the circumstances under which a homicide by a peace officer is deemed justifiable, NPR reports. In the wake of constant and often questionable uses of force, many states have begun to take action.
Most Americans are familiar with controversial cases involving the deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of police officers. After significant public outrage, several lawmakers took to drafting legislation that would change the parameters regarding the use of deadly force.
Pushed forward by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, AB 392 says that police officers may use lethal force only as a “necessary” response to a threat, rather than an “objectively reasonable” one, according to the article. Which means, deadly force is only permissible when there is no other option.
“As California goes, so goes the rest of the United States of America,” said Newsom. “And we are doing something today that stretches the boundaries of possibility and sends a message to people all across this country — that they can do more.”
Assembly Bill 392
The new law came in the wake of police killings of unarmed black men. Last year, Stephon Clark was shot dead in his grandmother’s backyard when police officers mistook a cellphone in Clark’s hand for a gun. Moreover, none of the officers involved face criminal charges.
“The reality is, officers rarely face consequences, and families like mine are left to wonder who is policing the police,” said Kori McCoy, whose younger brother was killed while sleeping in his car in February. The new law “offers a ray of solace for my family and hope that it will spare other families from bearing this burden with us.”
AB 392 received bipartisan support, and the new law takes effect on January 2020. However, some activist groups no longer support the legislation because of changes made to the bill following concerns raised by police associations.
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
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