California lawmakers propose legislation restricting when police can shoot
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California state lawmakers are proposing legislation that would impose new restrictions on when a law enforcement officer can open fire.

Under the legislation, officers would only be allowed to open fire if “there were no other reasonable alternatives to the use of deadly force." The Associated Press first reported the legislation, which is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups.

The proposal comes after the fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man in Sacramento.

Clark was shot by Sacramento police last month while unarmed in the backyard of his grandmother's house.

The legislation would shift the current "reasonable force" rule to a "necessary force" standard, according to the AP.


A spokesman for Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D), who is co-authoring the bill with Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D), said the legislation is an attempt to urge officers to attempt to de-escalate situations or use weapons that are less lethal.

The ACLU said California would be the first state to adopt such legislation. Some cities in California, such as San Francisco, have imposed similar restrictions on law enforcement agencies.

The results of an independent autopsy of Clark commissioned by Clark's family revealed he had been struck by eight bullets in his back or side.

The findings contradicted the official police account of the shooting. Officers said they opened fire because Clark began moving toward them aggressively and they believed he had a gun, when he was in fact holding a cellphone.

Demonstrations have broken out in California since reports of the shooting. Protesters have gathered at city hall and have marched through the city in response to the shooting.

Officers in California are not typically charged or convicted after a shooting, with officers permitted to use force if prosecutors or jurors feel they had reasonable fears for their safety.

ACLU legislative advocate Lizzie Buchen said the current standard “gives very broad discretion for using deadly force."

“It doesn’t mean there has to have been a threat. If a reasonable officer could have perceived a threat and responded with deadly force, then it’s legal," Buchen said.