Stephon Clark killing inspires California bill that would limit deadly force by police

Black Lives Matter protest after Stephon Clark killing.
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Lawmakers in California have proposed a change to the state's standard for police use of deadly force, introducing a bill Tuesday that would reduce the number of circumstances where lethal force is authorized.

The legislation would require that police only use "necessary force," rather than the "reasonable force" that is currently allowed, CNN reports. The bill, called the Police Accountability and Community Protection Act, was partly inspired by the recent shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was killed in Sacramento after officers reportedly mistook the cellphone in his hand for a firearm.

If passed, the bill would authorize deadly force "only when it is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death — that is, if, given the totality of the circumstances, there was no reasonable alternative to using deadly force, including warnings, verbal persuasion, or other nonlethal methods of resolution or de-escalation," explained Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D), a co-author. The legislation would also consider a death a homicide if a police officer's negligence contributed to making the force "necessary," the ACLU of California says.

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Police shot and killed 162 people in California last year, lawmakers say, and existing use-of-force laws are partly to blame. "The worst possible outcome is increasingly the only outcome, especially in communities of color," said Weber. Read more at CNN.

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