In California, Agreement On New Rules For When Police Can Use Deadly Force

California Highway Patrol officers block an interstate entrance as protesters march. Police use of deadly force became a focus for advocates in California after the district attorney declined to prosecute the officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man whose death sparked demonstrations in the state and across the country.

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California Highway Patrol officers block an interstate entrance as protesters march. Police use of deadly force became a focus for advocates in California after the district attorney declined to prosecute the officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man whose death sparked demonstrations in the state and across the country.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Civil rights advocates and law enforcement groups have reached an agreement in the California legislature on new rules for when police can use deadly force.

The issue has been a focus for many social justice advocates in California this spring after Sacramento’s district attorney declined to prosecute the officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man whose death sparked headlines and demonstrations across the country.

Under the agreement made public Thursday, officers will only be able to use lethal force when it is “necessary” and if there are no other options.

That’s widely viewed as higher than the existing legal standard: that the use of deadly force is legal if a “reasonable” officer would have acted similarly in that situation.

But the bill language leaves out a specific definition of “necessary,” which would leave interpretation up to the legal system to figure out on a case-by-case basis.

The measure is now expected to pass the assembly before next week.

“We can now move a policy forward that will save lives and change the culture of policing in California,” Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, who introduced the bill, wrote in a statement.

Law enforcement groups have dropped their opposition and are now neutral on the bill. “We appreciate your consideration of our concerns and thank you and your staff for working with CPCA on this critical issue,” the California Police Chiefs Association wrote in a letter to Weber Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a leading advocate that helped negotiate the bill, praised the agreement. “If this bill passes and is signed by the governor, California will have one of the most restrictive use-of-force laws in the nation — if not the most restrictive,” said the ACLU’s Lizzie Buchen.

The proposed law also states that an officer’s conduct leading up to the shooting will be considered — but so too will the suspect’s behavior. And there’s language in the bill that requires police to use other alternatives, such as de-escalation or “less lethal” options, before using deadly force. But these requirements are a statement of intent, not a specific checklist.

“The general idea is, we want the police to see if they can avoid the fatal encounter,” said Robert Weisberg, a professor of criminal law at Stanford Law School.

He says the agreement struck by the two sides represents the middle ground he suspected they would inevitably reach.

He added that defining the new “necessary” legal standard “is going to be very, very difficult for the courts” — and for officers, too.

For instance, an officer may second-guess their decision-making. “‘If I let this person go, what is the risk?'” Weisberg said of an officer’s thought process. “‘Sure, I’m legally allowed to restrain him, and I might be worried that he might commit another crime. But let’s do a tradeoff here. If I persist in the arrest, this may escalate into something fatal.'”

The deal also includes an accompanying bill backed by law enforcement that sets new statewide “best practices” and training for use of force standards. The state budget under negotiation is expected to provide new money to pay for that training.

The two sides have been negotiating since a previous use of force bill failed last summer, and Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins called them to the bargaining table in the subsequent months. Talks paused in February as each side introduced its own measure. But they resumed in recent weeks as it became clear that neither bill had enough support to pass on its own.

Atkins says she made a commitment to her colleague Weber to not stop working on use of force legislation. “We spent countless hours as soon as session ended last year right up to today bringing the different groups together so we could begin the difficult conversations needed to arrive at a negotiated agreement,” she said. “Doing nothing was not an option.”

It took the active involvement of Atkins’ office, and those of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Gov. Gavin Newsom, to secure the deal. Atkins and Rendon are now lead co-authors of AB 392.

“This is an important bill, one that will help restore community trust in our criminal justice system,” the governor wrote in a statement.

Rendon commended the moral strength of Weber in moving the bill to this point. “”We need this resolution to save lives, protect public safety, and guarantee justice in every community,” he wrote.

The bill still may receive minor amendments in the Senate, but the agreement reached Thursday is seen by all sides as the final framework — not an incremental deal to move the bill forward for future debate.

LIVE BLOG: Jefferson City sees widespread damage from observed tornado








JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – ABC 17 will have live coverage of storm damage all morning in the player below.

UPDATE 2:50 a.m.: Lincoln University will be closed on Thursday, May 23, said LU spokeswoman Misty Young. The campus will reopen on Tuesday. 

UPDATE 2:30 a.m.: The Jefferson City Police Department was assessing damage to the larger Jefferson City area on Thursday morning. 

Authorities were focusing on the area of Ellis Boulevard and Highway 54. As of 2 a.m. Thursday, no one was killed in the storm that swept through the area. 

Power lines were down, and multiple buildings were damaged, according to Lt. David Williams with JCPD.

 

UPDATE: The Jefferson City Police Department said it is in the process of assessing damage in Jefferson City. Crews are trying to identify the location of damage and search for injured residents.

The department is asking people to stay clear of the impacted areas.

A news briefing is scheduled for 2 a.m. at the Cole County Sheriff’s Department. ABC 17 News will be there.

ORIGINAL: Several agencies are gathering at the Cole County EMS headquarters in Jefferson City to evaluate storm damage in Missouri’s Capitol.

CCEMS Chief Matthew Lindewirth said fire, police and ambulance departments are coordinating their responses.

Jefferson City Fire said in a Facebook post they are actively responding to serious damage.

“All a large tornado has hit parts of Jefferson City. All Jefferson City Firefighters have been called back and are beginning rescue operations. Please Pray for our Citizens,” the post said.

Missouri Task Force 1 was activated at the request of the JCFD, according to Gale Bloomenkamp, a member of the task force.

ABC 17 News crews have damage to buildings, trees in vehicles on Christy Drive.

South And West Continue Rapid Growth, According To New Population Data

A housing development sits nestled in the South Mountain foothills in the Ahwatukee neighborhood, in Phoenix, Ariz. The city saw the biggest jump in population in the U.S. between 2017 and 2018.

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A housing development sits nestled in the South Mountain foothills in the Ahwatukee neighborhood, in Phoenix, Ariz. The city saw the biggest jump in population in the U.S. between 2017 and 2018.

Ross D. Franklin/AP

The southern and western regions of the United States continued to have the nation’s fastest-growing cities between 2017 and 2018, according to new population estimates for cities and towns released Thursday.

New York still leads all American cities with 8.4 million residents.

But as NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang reports, cities in Arizona, Texas, Washington and North Carolina top the list of rapidly growing municipalities.

“Arizona’s capital city saw the biggest jump in population last year with more than 25,000 new residents. They brought the population of Phoenix to close to 1.7 million. Other cities rounding out the top 5 cities with the largest increases last year include San Antonio (20,824) and Fort Worth (19,552), plus Seattle (15,354) and Charlotte (13,151).”

The data released by the U.S. Census Bureau lists the other fastest growing cities by region.

In the South, in order of population growth, they were Austin, Texas; Jacksonville, Fla.; Frisco, Texas; McKinney, Texas; and Miami.

The fastest growing cities in the West were San Diego, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Henderson, Nev.; and Las Vegas, Nev.

The only Midwestern city on the top 15 list was Columbus, Ohio.

“Phoenix is a good example of a city that is growing from a combination of immigration from abroad, domestic migration of seniors and old people from the north, and the spread of migrants from increasingly pricey coastal California,” Brookings Institution demographer William Frey told NPR.

Still, Frey says many large cities in all parts of the country have been growing more slowly as the U.S. population disperses to smaller cities in the suburbs and beyond.

“Among the 13 top gaining cities in the country are Frisco and McKinney, Texas, in suburban Dallas and Henderson, Nev., in suburban Las Vegas. Each of these suburbs gained more people than Houston, Atlanta or Miami in the past year,” Frey said.

The Census Bureau estimates also track the growth in housing units which remained steady in nearly all states, according to an agency press release.

“The nation’s housing stock grew by 1.2 million units between 2017 and 2018, reaching 138.5 million housing units in total. The growth rate of 0.8% from 2017 to 2018 remained the same as from the previous year,” the release said.

The bureau says four states gained more than 50,000 housing units between 2017 and 2018: Texas, Florida, California and North Carolina.

“Utah was the fastest-growing state in terms of housing units, with an increase of 2.2% between 2017 and 2018. Idaho had an increase of 1.9%, and Colorado and Texas had an increase of 1.6% each,” according to the report.