ACLU: CA Attorney General Must Support AB 392

Xavier Becerra

(From Press Release) – Today, California Attorney General Becerra announced that the state Department of Justice would not bring criminal charges against the police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark, who was unarmed at the time, in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18, 2018. The announcement comes after days of protests in Sacramento following the decision by the county’s District Attorney who also declined to press charges against the officers.

Lizzie Buchen, legislative advocate for the ACLU of California’s Center for Advocacy and Policy, had this to say in response:

“The Attorney General’s announcement comes as no surprise. While his office has declared they will not be holding the officers accountable for shooting and killing the unarmed Stephon Clark, there is more the Attorney General can do to ensure that other families do not have to suffer through the tragic nightmare Mr. Clark’s family is living.

We call on Attorney General Becerra to endorse Assembly Bill 392 (D-Weber), a bill to change the deadly use of force standard in California from a ‘reasonable’ to a ‘necessary’ standard to prevent more unnecessary police shootings.

There is no reason for the Attorney General, the top law enforcement officer in the state, to refrain from endorsing AB 392. Just a few weeks ago, the California Department of Justice issued a report urging the Sacramento Police Department to update its use of force policy. Those recommendations align with AB 392, which would establish a clearer deadly use of force standard and require that officers use de-escalation tactics and avoid using deadly force whenever possible.

Specifically, the Department of Justice recommended that the Sacramento Police Department ‘…require that officers exhaust all reasonably available alternatives before using deadly force,’ and ‘…make de-escalation an affirmative duty….’

The California Department of Justice recognizes that there is a lack of clarity and guidance for officers in determining when to use deadly force. It’s time to apply the department of justice’s recommendations statewide.

We know stricter use of force policies work to reduce incidents of use of force, save lives, and keep officers safe. The question is, which side of history will Attorney General Becerra stand on?”

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  1. Edgar Wai

    Before reading AB392, I always thought that the meaning of use of force is that lethal force is not used unless it is necessary. However, according to the dispersal announcement on March 4, 2019, lethal force could be used to disperse protesters. That has to be wrong, I think. Some people said AB392 does not allow the police to make split decisions. But the text of AB392 specifically allows this:


    (3) That the decision by a peace officer to use force shall be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable officer in the same situation, based on the totality of the circumstances known to or perceived by the officer at the time, rather than with the benefit of hindsight, and that the totality of the circumstances shall account for occasions when officers may be forced to make quick judgments about using force.

    So I don’t know what the argument is against AB392. From what I understand about AB392, the bill would not make the officers who shot Clark prosecutable. The totality of the circumstance remained the same. The officer thought that Clark is trying to get around the corner to pursue and shoot them. That was imminent danger and warranted use of lethal force. The officers could not duck or run. Clark was moving toward them, if they run, they lose sight of Clark and he could shoot them in their backs.

    According to the totality of the circumstance, the officers were trying to arrest a bugler. It was two officers against one, with a helicopter overseeing the surrounding. Precisely because there was no report that the suspect had a gun, it would make sense for the two officers to just enter and arrest him there. When they discovered that Clark “had” a gun, they were way too close to the threat to not shoot.

    According to AB392 the shooting would be justified.

    1. John Hobbs

      Why would they arrest a bugler?

      “When they discovered that Clark “had” a gun, they were way too close to the threat to not shoot.”

      Bullsquat. Your continued ignorance of the facts, arrogant assumptions and use of of false premises seems intentional..

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