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Showing posts from July, 2020

California’s Use of Force Law Offers Hope of Reducing Police Killing

The cornerstone of our constitutional democracy is the principle that no person can be deprived of life or liberty without due process of law. As the events of recent weeks have confirmed, there is no greater threat to due process than the arbitrary use of lethal force by the police; no clearer gap between the ideal and reality of our democracy than the police’s needless killing of George Floyd and so many other black and brown men and women. A number of proposals to reform, defund, and even abolish the police are being currently debated. This post will discuss one recent change in California law concerning police use of lethal force that could make a difference.

California in August 2019 changed its lethal force standard. Previously, in California, police officers were justified in using deadly force if a “reasonable” officer could have acted a similar way, following US Supreme Court precedent. Only if they failed to meet this reasonableness standard could they be criminally prosecut…