California has passed a new law restricting when police officers can pull the trigger, and many are calling it one of the strictest use-of-force standards in the nation.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Monday a bill forcing police officers to consider alternative measures to deadly force.
Assembly Bill 392, which takes effect January 1, stipulates that police officers “use deadly force only when necessary in defense of human life” instead of when it is “reasonable,” which current law maintains.
Newsom thanked the bill’s author, San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, and said the entire country thanks her “because as California goes so goes the rest of the United States of America.”
The change followed vigorous private negotiations and public outcry in the death of Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old Black man fatally shot by two Sacramento officers in March 2018.
Police thought Clark was armed when they shot him in his grandparent’s backyard, but he was only carrying a cellphone, according to multiple media reports.
Weber considered the bill’s passage into law a victory, and she thanked families of those killed for trusting her in negotiations.
“This will make a difference not only in California but we know it will make a difference around the world,” she said at a signing ceremony in Sacramento.
Family members of those slain surrounded Weber at the ceremony.
“We are doing something today that stretches the boundaries of possibility,” she said.
Not everyone is praising the legislation though.
Stevante Clark, the brother of Stephon Clark, told the Los Angeles Times: “The bill is watered down. Everybody knows that, but at least we are getting something done. At least we are having the conversation now.”
Attorney Kathleen Mastagni Storm, who pushed for a total rejection of the bill, told the California Globe the law is a second-guessing opportunity for anyone looking at video or body camera footage after a shooting.
“AB 392 criminalizes police use of force, and tips the balance, unnecessarily jeopardizing public safety,” Mastagni Storm said in April before the bill was passed by the legislature. “This proposed law is based on a false narrative that the use of deadly force in situations is not necessary.”
She argued it is.