California state legislators have introduced a bill that would only permit police officers to use deadly force after they have considered all other nonlethal alternatives.
If a cop decides to shoot before trying nonlethal techniques, they could be fired or possibly charged with a crime, according to Courthouse News.
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat who co-authored the bill, said at a press conference on Tuesday that the legislation was the first of its kind in the country.
“Deadly force can be used but only when it is completely necessary,” Weber said.
The bill would also change state law to make it harder for police officers to use the common defense that shot someone because they feared for their own safety.
If the bill passes, it will update California’s more than 100-year-old law that states law officers can use lethal force “when reasonable” to “only when necessary,” Sacramento Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, who co-authored the bill, said at the press conference.
Dubbed the “Police Accountability and Community Protection Act,” the proposal would establish “that a homicide by a peace officer is not justified if the officer’s gross negligence contributed to making the force ‘necessary,’” according to the ACLU.
The ACLU said the bill will authorize “police officers to use 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.”
California is home to some of the nation’s deadliest police forces.
A Los Angeles Times investigation found that police officers in six Southern California counties have shot more than 2,000 suspects since 2004. Only one officer was prosecuted—and he was acquitted.
Weber at the press conference said the “public’s activism [and energy] in the last few weeks has truly been inspiring,” referring to protests after the Sacramento police killing of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was fatally shot in his grandmother’s backyard.
“It’s time now that we as legislators match that energy and do the right thing by pushing for smart and effective reform,” Weber said.