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California Lawmakers Propose A Law That Would Only Allow Police To Open Fire ‘When Necessary’

It would be great news for people of color in the state.

Image via SS&SS/Flickr.


California lawmakers are looking to pass a law that could reduce the number of people shot by police.

The city of Sacramento is still coming to grips with the horrifying killing of 22-year-old Stephon Clark. In March, two officers unloaded 20 bullets into Clark in his grandmother’s backyard. Eight bullets struck Clark, and he died within minutes. He was armed only with a cellphone.

In the aftermath, lawmakers in California are stepping up to address the rampant use of excessive force by police. At a press conference on April 3, 2018, Sacramento-based Assemblymember Kevin McCarty proposed legislation that would allow police to open fire “only when necessary” instead of the current guideline allowing them to shoot “when reasonable.”

McCarty co-authored the bill with Assemblymember Shirley Weber, both members of the California Legislative Black Caucus and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“We need to ensure that our state policy governing the use of deadly force stresses the sanctity of human life and is only used when necessary,” Weber said at the press conference. “Deadly force can be used, but only when it is completely necessary.”

If passed, the new legislation would go a long way toward protecting people of color in California. A 2016 study found that from 2006 to 2015, 1,130 people were killed by the police in the state. 43% of those were Latino, 30% white, 20% black, and 7% were of another race. However, police shot and killed black people at almost five times the rate of whites and three times the rate of Latinos.?

Such a law may also help protect people with disabilities, who are also often disproportionately harmed by police violence.

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