Posted by 10 July 2019
In the wake of controversy over the shooting of unarmed suspects by police, California legislators have passed a law that would make a big change to the law governing when law enforcement officers may fire their guns.
Around the nation, there has been increasing attention to police shooting and killing unarmed suspects. In California, protests erupted when Sacramento police shot and killed Stephon Clark. He was unarmed but was holding a cell phone that officers said looked like a gun.
Current law allows police leeway to shoot suspects if they think they have a reasonable fear of imminent danger. This standard has led to few police officers being charged and convicted in these types of shootings.
Under a bill that passed both houses of the California legislature by large margins, police would only be able to shoot someone if it is necessary to defend themselves from imminent harm. This would make it easier to prosecute officers for killing unarmed suspects.
Some critics say that this legislation would make it more difficult for police to do their jobs. They say that it will put them in harm’s way since officers will be worried about using their firearms for fear of being prosecuted if they make a mistake. Supporters counter that it would end the situation where officers can kill unarmed people with no chance of accountability.
Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign this legislation.
Should there be stricter standards for when police can use deadly force? Should it be easier to prosecute police who shoot unarmed suspects?