California Lawmakers Push Again for Strict Standards on Police Shootings

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A year after the failure of legislation that would have made it easier to criminally prosecute police officers for killing civilians, California lawmakers will once again debate stricter legal standards for officers who use deadly force, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

This week, legislators are introducing two competing bills on the issue, setting up a renewed clash between civil-liberties organizations and law-enforcement groups. One bill, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and similar groups, would allow district attorneys to more easily prosecute police officers for killing civilians. The other, which has the support of police unions and management, would instead focus on internal department policies and training. Under the current law, police can use deadly force if it’s “objectively reasonable” for them to do so. The bill backed by the ACLU would allow prosecutors to take into account an officer’s actions prior to a killing that could have negligently placed the officer in harm’s way. It would only allow the use deadly force against someone fleeing arrest if they believe that person has committed a violent felony and it’s necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury, encouraging prosecutors to consider whether police could have deescalated the situation with verbal warnings or used nonlethal force beforehand.

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