Lawmakers and journalist should have to successfully complete a “shoot or don’t shoot” course.
Several lawmakers and the family of a 22-year-old unarmed black man who was fatally shot by police are proposing Tuesday that California become the first state to significantly restrict when officers can open fire.
The legislation would change the standard from using “reasonable force” to “necessary force.”
That means officers would be allowed to shoot only if “there were no other reasonable alternatives to the use of deadly force” to prevent imminent serious injury or death, said Lizzie Buchen, legislative advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is among the groups behind the measure.
The goal is to encourage officers to try to defuse confrontations or use less deadly weapons, said Terry Schanz, a spokesman for Democratic Assemblyman Kevin McCarty of Sacramento, who is co-authoring the legislation with Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat.
Some in law enforcement called the proposal “irresponsible and unworkable.”
Officers already use deadly force only when necessary and are taught to try to defuse dangerous situations first when possible, said Ed Obayashi, a Plumas County sheriff’s deputy and special prosecutor who trains officers and testifies in court on police use of force.
Tinkering with legal protections for police could make it more difficult to hire officers and is dangerous because they may hesitate when confronting an armed suspect, threatening themselves and bystanders, Obayashi said.