Bill Watch

#LetUsLive Bill to Reduce Police Uses of Deadly Force in CA Lands on Governor Newsom’s Desk

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

On Monday, AB 392, a bill that seeks to change the circumstances under which law enforcement officers can use deadly force, sailed out of the California Senate with a 34-3 vote.

The bill, authored by Assemblymembers Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), is now awaiting a signature from Governor Gavin Newsom.

In recent months, Gov. Newsom has expressed support for the “important” measure, which he says “will help restore community trust in our criminal justice system.”

Back in May, lawmakers agreed to significant changes to the bill that got law enforcement unions to drop their opposition, but resulted in a final product that some former bill-backers, including Black Lives Matter, say is far too watered down. Others say that in its current form, AB 392 will still make a crucial difference, and give California one of the strongest use-of-force laws in the nation. (Note: in this case, the term “deadly force” means any police use of force–firearm or otherwise–that carries a substantial risk of killing or seriously injuring a person.)

Currently, state law says that police officers can use deadly force when “objectively reasonable”—when another officer with similar training and experience would have behaved similarly under the same circumstances.

It’s a “squishy” standard that “doesn’t actually provide you with much guidance,” says Peter Bibring, the ACLU’s Director of Police Practices.

According to Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), the “objectively reasonable” standard fails to “protect people’s fundamental human rights.”

AB 392 would require law enforcement officers to use deadly force only when “necessary to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person.”

Originally the bill defined “necessary” to mean “no reasonable alternative to the use of deadly force,” but the definition was lost in the wave of amendments.

Now, “in determining whether force is necessary, officers shall evaluate each situation in light of the particular circumstances of each case, and shall use other available resources and techniques if reasonably safe and feasible to an objectively reasonable officer.”

The amended bill also lost the original version’s requirement that officers try to de-escalate a tense situation–through “sound tactics, including the use of time, distance, communications, tactical repositioning, and available resources–before shooting.

The bill “specifies that a peace officer who makes or attempts to make an arrest need not retreat or desist from their efforts by reason of the resistance or threatened resistance of the person being arrested,” according to the bill’s Senate floor analysis. “A peace officer shall not be deemed an aggressor or lose the right to self-defense by the use of objectively reasonable force, otherwise in compliance with the provisions of this bill to effect the arrest or to prevent escape or to overcome resistance.”

At the same time, according to the legislators’ analysis, “the authority to use physical force, conferred on peace officers by this section, is a serious responsibility that shall be exercised judiciously and with respect for human rights and dignity and for the sanctity of every human life.”

Each person “has a right to be free from excessive use of force by officers acting under color of law,” the legislators wrote.

AB 392 is a reboot of a bill Assm. Weber introduced last year in response to the death of Stephon Clark, who was fatally shot on March 18 by Sacramento police officers who believed the cell phone he was holding was a gun.

“With so many unnecessary deaths, I think everyone agrees that we need to change how deadly force is used in California,” Weber said. “We can now move a policy forward that will save lives and change the culture of policing in California.”

“With the legislative passage of AB 392 and the commitment from the Governor, California strengthens the relationships between our communities and law enforcement to make our communities safer,” Assm. McCarty said.

The bill is co-sponsored by a group of organizations that includes the ACLU, the Youth Justice Coalition, and the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, and officially supported by dozens more.


  • Taylor: Curious as to the wording “imminent threat” versus perceived threat. For example: A few years ago in Los Angeles after a vehicle pursuit, the suspect took a shooting stance and pointed an object (phone) at the officers who shot and killed the suspect. Obviously after the fact a phone would not have been an imminent threat. Would the new bill change the outcome of that type of encounter?

  • #letuslive, wonder how many black lives will be lost over this little gimmick. Judging by the uptick in murders in places like Chicago, Baltimore, and Detroit (just to name a few) during the latter part of the Obama administration, the butchers bill for black lives matter was fairly significant. The fact that this thing was watered down gives hope that the carnage won’t bee too bad.

  • @Bandwagon, don’t muddy the waters with real life scenarios, the Ivory Tower thinkers can’t grasp the concept of what reality is all about.

  • Imminent danger training takes me back in time to the RRCC when the revamped Mickey mouse tree house became Pandora’s box. So much happened to blanket numerous hubber and lyft accounts. Signing into mockingbird hexo Lego pioneer spectrum DP addresses. Facial recognition crossed by Haines fruity loomed x-ray classification, uses dangerous radar projected automatically towards a tagged industry that is a individual clowned by a variable wildcard DMV ID that was tomb raider by grave digger, baseball players and fandago customer service representatives. The truth of allowing wrong tatics and circumstances created by LA County employee relations with civilian volunteers, supports a systematic file cabinet for 99999 cases with AAA exchange access. Looks like the one toothers will soon be finding there fairy godmother lockbox that the CAPE ROSETTA STONE crew cooked up drinking Jones Soda Pop eating Pop Tarts and celebrating Bird Brain moments to benefit trusting the driver blindfolded by triple stacked hats, at least the love bunnies are still together, barely surviving underneath the homeless import from the Rose Pier, the Farris wheel glows bright like the Malibu Fires did and my dying cough is a result from helping cleanup the ashes that unauthorized emergency workers took advantage of my kindness and survivor will. I realize that the video of BJs and MCJ were purposely given to mind fuck me into PTSD isolation so that interference would buy time and the quasimilitary judical commission would never reveal the precise truth of allowing applied insurance pps companies to remotely use applications with backwoods nitetime Holiday inn poker party proceeds to gain farm valued animals so mc Donald Happy meals could solve world hunger.

  • If you notice who the sponsor of this Bill is, along with her supporters, it will speak volumes. It is amazing how some of these people in society will look to vilify others for their own inadequacies, while also negating their own responsibilities. If these people would take the time to thoroughly research, why these incidents transpire, maybe they may get an inkling into what is the real cause of officer involved shootings vs. members of the black community. Statistically speaking, 13% of the population is comprised of the black community. Of which approximately 90% of the crimes are attributable to the black community. Apparently, this does not factor into the decision making process. Further, black children being born out of wedlock, accounts for approximately 70%. I presume this does not factor into any type of negative behavior? Moreover, when you have politicians who keep the black community on a “dependent status” what does this do to this community?

  • Well it’s a good place to start. However, I agree that the initial bill has been “watered down” to the extent that these folks retain their licenses to kill with impunity.

    Don’t get me wrong, we commend the brave and honest officers patrolling and keeping the community safe. But police organizations are for the most part “corrupt cultures” especially LA county, ( and nationwide for the most part) so the only way to potentially remove the “ corrupt culture foundations” is to apply real and serious consequences for “unjustified murders”.

    We’ll keep chipping away, granted very significant strives have taken place in the area of reforms.

    But let’s not get complacent – and let these folks return to the callous and murderous policies and practices, from these folks who have earned a terrible reputation as very unintelligent people who have embraced terror.

    Either there’s been a significant slow down in police excessive force incidents, or their pals controlling the media are more adapt to suppress the events.

  • C M, thank you. This is the most coherant thing I’ve read in regards to Police Reforms.

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