Police Use of Force Bill Clears Public Safety Committee

SACRAMENTO -- Assembly Bill 392, a once-controversial bill that redefines the circumstances under which law enforcement officers can use deadly force, cleared another hurdle unopposed Tuesday at the State Capitol when it was approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee.

The bill requires officers to use deadly force only when there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury. It also calls on law enforcement to attempt to deescalate and use non-lethal approaches to resolve conflicts.

"I just think the time is right to make sweeping amendments. Let's let California be the leader in making this change," Elizabeth Henning Adam said Tuesday.

She and her husband Everett live in Sacramento now, but their son Bobby Henning died in Southern California in 2012 at the hands of a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy.

"I hope that it passes," Everett Adam said. "It's weak, but it's a start."

No one spoke in opposition Tuesday to AB 392 -- a far cry from the numerous law enforcement organizations that initially opposed the bill.

Those organizations still don’t support this bill but removed the opposition in exchange for some concessions. Now, under the bill, officers' actions will be judged by their mindset at the time of the shooting, not in hindsight. Officers also won't be held liable for negligent deaths and the requirement that officers exhaust all non-lethal options before resorting to deadly force was removed.

Still, the dozens of supporters who came to speak on behalf of AB 392 feel the bill is a worthy start to cutting back on deadly police shootings.

AB 392 now heads to the Senate for a full vote. If passed, it would require Governor Gavin Newsom's signature to become law.

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