California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill into law that allegedly establishes a new standard for when police can use deadly force. In reality, it’s likely to do little more than endanger police officers and enrich the state’s litigation lawyers. And the blame for this one goes to Golden State politicians’ desire to pander to their core constituencies.
Not only did politicians play word games with established laws and rules in this new standard (re-wording the ‘old’ standard) — and one that puts symbolism over substance — but they shamelessly used the families of alleged victims of police shootings as props to promote themselves as “doing something” about a perceived problem.
It reminds me of the old expression; if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with…bull poop.
First USA Today’s coverage:
California has adopted one of the nation’s strictest laws regulating police use of force, hoping it will deter shootings by law enforcement agents.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed Assembly Bill 392, which changes the standard for police officers’ justified use of deadly force from instances when it’s “reasonable’’ to when it’s “necessary.’’
Really? The definition taught by reputable experts like Massad Ayoob and attorneys far and wide already says that deadly force is justified only when faced with the immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm.
And the “reasonable person standard” helps define terms like “immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger.” The reasonable person standard is defined as what a reasonable and prudent person would have done in that same situation knowing what the defendant knew at the time.
Maybe Gov. Newsom’s new legal standard should be called the “necessary person standard.”
The law redefines when police can resort to deadly force “based on the totality of the circumstances’’ and encourages the use of de-escalation techniques and crisis-intervention methods.
As if the “totality of the circumstances” hasn’t already played a role in determining the justification for using deadly force for generations. Who in their right mind would not use de-escalation techniques and “crisis-intervention” methods (whatever those are) when possible?
“We are doing something today that stretches the boundary of possibility and sends a message to people all across this country that they can do more and they can do better to meet this moment,” Newsom said as he stood alongside family members of people killed by police.
Governor Newsom shamelessly used those family members as props for his political grandstanding.
The only message low-information people are going to take from this is that they might be able to get away with more before police react with deadly force. But they will likely find themselves disappointed as police officers continue to employ force — up to and including deadly force where justified — in the performance of their duties.
Newsom said the new law will reduce the number of lives lost and begin to heal communities.
Just because you say it doesn’t make it true. Take “Russian collusion,” for example.
The measure by Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber of San Diego, which initially met fierce resistance from law enforcement organizations, made it through the state Legislature with bipartisan support after it was amended to address police concerns.
They amended Weber’s “groundbreaking” bill to reiterate existing legal standards for the use of deadly force.
After all, just because someone steps into a law enforcement uniform doesn’t mean they should have to surrender their right to defend themselves from death or great bodily injury at the hands of a violent perp…even if the Legislature and Governor think they should.