SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – His shooting death by Sacramento police officers sparked new legislation, and now Stephon Clark’s family is making a new push for the passage of Assembly Bill 392.
The proposal would limit when police can use deadly force – but what would the changes mean for law enforcement?
The controversial bill is called the California Act to Save Lives. Supporters say that’s exactly what the proposal would do, but opponents say it would come at a big price to public safety.
“I plan to push for AB 392, that’s something I want to push for,” said Stephon Clark’s brother Stevante.
After stalling in the Senate last year, AB 392 is back in the spotlight. The bill was born following the police shooting death of Stephon Clark in Sacramento. His family and civil rights leaders are pushing to get it passed.
“To prevent this from happening to anybody else’s son or grandson or anybody else,” said Stevante Clark.
But California law enforcement says the bill is dangerous for everyone.
“It would limit the officers’ ability to defend the public,” said Tim Davis, President of the Sacramento Police Officer’s Association.
AB 392 would change the standard of using deadly force from reasonable to necessary. It would also require officers to exhaust alternative methods before resorting to deadly force.
Davis says it would basically criminalize officers for making split-second decisions.
‘If you got through this checklist that they’ve created, by then the officer or the citizen might already be dead, so we need to be able to respond quickly to these uses of deadly force,” said Davis.
Davis also says if the bill passes, every single law enforcement officer in the state would have to be retrained. He says there are better solutions out there.
“Not telling officers that if they make a mistake, they’re going to go to prison for the rest of their lives,” Davis said.
Still mourning a life lost, those in support of AB 392 say landmark change must be made.
“We need to acknowledge the systematic issues and support legislation and training that brings about reform,” said Reverend Tecoy Porter.
Davis says law enforcement is pushing for a separate bill – SB 230. The proposal would not limit use of deadly force, but would change policies to require additional training, including on how to de-escalate situations, deal with mental health issues and also learn communicate better with the public.
The hope, Davis says, is that these additional skills will help limit situations where deadly force is used to begin with.