SACRAMENTO — A new police use of force bill will be facing its first major test Tuesday during a crucial committee hearing.
That bill will establish a new definition for when deadly force can be used by police.
Accompanied by their own marching band, activists with the American Civil Liberties Union of California spent Monday drumming up support for AB 392 on the north steps of the State Capitol.
“I think AB 392 will preserve a lot of lives and it will also help gain justice for people who’ve been previously killed by the hands of police officers,” said Ciara Hamilton.
Hamilton went to Sacramento to support the bill for her cousin, Diante Yarber, who was shot and killed by police in Barstow last year.
“He was 26 years old and he was shot in the Walmart parking lot in Barstow by four officers,” Hamilton said.
AB 392 would make it so police could only use deadly force when there are no safe alternatives to preventing death or serious bodily injury.
“It’s really not that complicated, you know. Police can do their jobs and focus on preserving life,” said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento.
McCarty, who coauthored the bill, said AB 392 borrows from policies already in use in other cities and jurisdictions that have reduced the number of police shooting deaths.
“This isn’t some crazy theory that has never been utilized. This is based upon recommendations from the U.S. Department of Justice, the state Department of Justice and two West Coast cities, Seattle and San Francisco, have done this,” McCarty said.
The bill will go before the Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday morning, the first step before it’s sent to the Assembly floor for a vote.
But not everyone is on board.
Police unions across the state have spoken out against AB 392, claiming it will put officers’ lives at risk, as well as limit their ability to defend the public.
The California Police Chiefs Association has instead supported Senate Bill 230, which requires jurisdictions to focus on more use of force training.
The association sent the following statement to FOX40 from its president, Ronald Lawrence, about the police use of force bill:
“AB 392 (Weber) does nothing to change use-of-force policies, training or guidelines, but instead undermines an officer’s ability to respond to a life-or-death situation. SB 230 (Caballero) provides officers with the necessary training and resources needed to reduce the number of incidents involving deadly force.”
However, Hamilton and others feel that training doesn’t go far enough.
“I feel like police are trained professionally to take tactics that they don’t use,” Hamilton said. “I feel like they automatically shoot to kill just from the intimidation of the color of our skin.”