Lawmakers in California are proposing a new bill that would require police officers to look for 'reasonable alternatives' before opening fire on a criminal suspect. The bill was introduce following the shooting of an unarmed black man in Sacramento that has unleashed days of protests by the community.
The bill was introduced at a press conference attended by several state lawmakers who appeared along with the ACLU, and family members of Stephon Clark, the unarmed black man who was shot to death by Sacramento police last month.
Lawmakers say the legislation would change the standard for police from using "reasonable force" to "necessary force." The goal by lawmakers is to encourage officers to defuse situations with suspects, or use less deadly options.
Assemblymember Shirley Weber of San Diego says the law doesn't outlaw the use of lethal force by officers, only requiring them to shoot only when necessary and apply the same standards to all suspects, regardless of race.
Last week, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn told the Associated Press that he was open to examining his department's policies on pursuing suspects and other practices. However, he warned that tampering with that could lead to unforeseen consequences.
California would be the first state to adopt the new standard, however, some cities, like San Francisco, already have similar or even more restrictive rules on an officer's use of force.
More than 160 people were fatally shot by police last year, only half of whom had guns, lawmakers said.
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