WA Panel Would Ease Prosecutions of Police Officers

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A Washington state legislative task force has approved a recommendation to change the state law that protects law enforcement from prosecution after officers kill people, the Seattle Times reports. The recommendation yesterday was one of several proposals that the Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing joint task force approved sending to state lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee. The narrow vote to change the law’s language is a boost for advocates seeking to address the spate of high-profile police shootings in Washington and across the nation. The recommendations face an uncertain future in the legislature.

The group acted after Seattle Seahawks player Doug Baldwin, the son of a former police officer, joined a dozen other public commenters who weighed in on the changes. Washington law makes it almost impossible for prosecutors to bring criminal charges against an officer, even if there’s a conclusion that an officer wrongfully killed someone, a Seattle Times investigation found. That’s because the law holds that an officer can’t be charged if he or she acted in good faith during an incident, and without malice. In a narrow vote, the task force of lawmakers, prosecutors, law-enforcement groups, advocates for minorities and others approved a recommendation to remove references to malice and good faith from the law.

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