SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Stephon Clark shooting has prompted new state legislation, that may make it harder for an officer to prove lethal force is justified in a confrontation.
The bill says officers will only be allowed to use lethal force when necessary — as opposed to the current constitutional mandate of “reasonable.”
Lawmakers say the bill is a direct response to the Stephon Clark shooting, which they say shows current state law makes it easy for an officer to act abruptly without trying to de-escalate a situation.
But law enforcement groups are strongly opposed, even as protesters continued their fight for Stephon Clark, the unarmed 22-year-old shot and killed in Sacramento two weeks ago.
“As a pastor, I see too much blood in the streets,” said Sacramento Pastor Les Simmons.
Faith leaders and civil rights activists, teamed up with Democratic lawmakers at the state Capitol Tuesday morning, to announce the landmark legislation.
“This law we think will help prevent needless loss of life,” said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D- Sacramento).
“Deadly force can be used. But only when it is completely necessary,” said Shirley Weber (D- San Diego).
Officers would only be allowed to use deadly force as “the last resort,” “to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury,” and when there is “no “reasonable alternative.”
“We need to make sure that officers use the many other tools at their disposal that don’t result in killing civilians,” said ACLU legislative advocate Lizzie Buchen.
The American Civil Liberties Union- sponsoring the bill- cites data showing that police departments with more restrictive use of force policies… kill fewer people.
But Former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness says less lethal use of force is often ineffective.
“You don’t have enough time to tag every base along the way and using that incremental less lethal force… and when that’s not the case nothing else but stopping the adversary will work,” said McGinness.
The bill faces challenges in the state legislature, which has sided with law enforcement before.
“We hope it’ll go through Assembly and Senate without being watered down,” said Rev. Shane Harris of the National Action Network.
Harris recently pushed for a bill requiring independent investigations of police shootings.
That failed to pass.
And lobby groups like the California Peace Officers Association say, they’re already gearing up for a new battle.
“What is that balance that protects the public and peace officers?,” said CPOA Legislative Advocate Shaun Rundle.
It’s unclear when the bill will be heard, or whether Stephon Clark’s family members will be there to testify.