New Law Makes It Harder for California’s Cops to Get Away with Killing People
by Douglas Ankney
Beginning January 1, 2020, cops in California will be allowed to use deadly force only when the “officer reasonably believes ... that deadly force is necessary to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.”
The law was inspired by the 2018 shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black father of two killed by police in his grandparents’ backyard when officers claimed they mistook his cellphone for a gun.
Under the new law, if investigators determine that an officer used lethal force when there was a reasonable alternative, the officer could face criminal charges, civil liability, and disciplinary action. Current law across the country permits use of force if it is “objectively reasonable,” which civil rights advocates and families of people murdered by police criticize as being a standard that is too low.
Peter Bibring, director of police practices at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said, “We expect this legislation to save lives.”
But Melina Abdullah, leader of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, said, “Unfortunately, in efforts to get law enforcement to lift their opposition, the bill was so significantly amended that it is no longer the kind of meaningful legislation we can support.”
Law enforcement unions had vigorously opposed the bill, prompting amendments to remove requirements for police to de-escalate tensions when interacting with the public.
More from this issue:
- News in Brief
- $750,000 Settlement for St. Louis County Cops Shooting Dog, by Jayson Hawkins
- The Two-Edged Sword of DNA Exonerates Another Prisoner, by Edward Lyon
- National Fingerprint Database Frees Man After 36 Years, by Jayson Hawkins
- Free Speech Is Sometimes Expensive, by Edward Lyon
- New York City Cops Can Always Tell by Just the Smell, by Edward Lyon
- Man Freed Who Sat in Prison Nearly 30 Years While Prosecutors Withheld Evidence of Innocence, by Dale Chappell
- Payouts for Police Misconduct Claims Rise While Number of Claims Appear to Fall, by Douglas Ankney
- Michigan Supreme Court Reverses Criminal Sexual Conduct Convictions in Two Consolidated Cases Due to Improperly Admitted Expert Testimony, by Douglas Ankney
- High Bail Amounts Lead to Sharp Increase in Franklin, PA, Jail Population, by Dale Chappell
- New Law Makes It Harder for California’s Cops to Get Away with Killing People, by Douglas Ankney
- Not Guilty but Punished Anyway, by Douglas Ankney
- Maryland Court of Appeals Announces Circuit Court Retains Authority to Exercise Its Revisory Power for Up to Five Years After Granting Belated Postconviction Motion, by Douglas Ankney
- Indiana Supreme Court: Postconviction Petition Addressing Only Issues From New Trial, New Sentencing, or New Appeal From Federal Court via Habeas Proceedings Is Not a Second Petition Under State Law, by Douglas Ankney
- Ninth Circuit: Federal Sentencing Court Must Hear Defendant Before Determining If Acceptance of Responsibility Reduction Applies, by David Reutter
- Sixth Circuit Grants § 2254 Habeas Relief in Unusual Case of Attorney Failing to Initiate Plea Negotiations, by Douglas Ankney
- Law Professor Peeks at Prosecutor’s Veiled DNA Database, by Douglas Ankney
- Fifth Circuit: Practices of Orleans Parish Judges in Collecting Fines and Fees Violates Due Process, by Douglas Ankney
- Seventh Circuit Vacates Conviction and Remands for a Franks Hearing, by Douglas Ankney
- California Supreme Court Holds Discovery Statute Requiring ‘Good Cause’ Not Applicable When Evidence Held by Court, by Dale Chappell
- Minnesota Supreme Court Announces Heightened Pleading Standard for Birchfield/Johnson Claims Raised in Collateral Postconviction Proceedings, by Douglas Ankney
- Missouri Supreme Court Clarifies Defendant Is Entitled to Self-Defense Instruction When Substantial Evidence Supports Instruction Regardless of Whether Defendant Presented Evidence Contrary to Self-Defense, by Douglas Ankney
- Ninth Circuit Reverses Convictions Where Trial Court Failed to Provide Oral Jury Instructions, by Chad Marks
- Tenth Circuit: ‘Relevant Background Law’ Trumps Unclear Record in Granting § 2255 Relief From Johnson Error, by Michael Berk
- Another notable (but ultimately disappointing) ruling about sentence reductions under § 3582(c)(1)(A) after FIRST STEP Act, by Professor Douglas A. Berman
- Maryland Court of Appeals Abrogates Rule Requiring Corroboration of Accomplices’ Testimony and Announces New Rule, by Douglas Ankney
- In Landmark Opinion, Colorado Supreme Court Announces Courts May Not Sentence Defendant to Both Prison and Probation in Multi-Count Cases, by Richard Resch
- 9th Circuit: Sentence Under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(k) Violated Ex Post Facto Clause When Underlying Offense Was Committed in 2005, by Douglas Ankney
- California Supreme Court: Where Electronics Search Condition of Probation Is Not Reasonably Related to Future Criminality, Condition Is Invalid, by Douglas Ankney
- Risk Assessments in Cook County Ineffective, by Jayson Hawkins
- $2.4 Million Paid by Sacramento in Wrongful Death Suit of Stephon Clark, by Kevin Bliss
- Second Circuit: Federal Habeas Relief Warranted Where State Trial Court’s Evidentiary Rulings Deprived Defendant of Right to Present a Complete Defense, by Douglas Ankney
- South Carolina Supreme Court Grants New Trial Based on IAC Because of Botched Alibi Defense, by Dale Chappell
- Massachusetts Supreme Court Suppresses Evidence Obtained After Miranda Warnings Translated into Spanish Deemed Incapable of Conveying Meaningful Advice, by David Reutter
- Civil Death Laws: When Life is Death, by Jayson Hawkins
- 10th Circuit: Child Porn Stored on Multiple Devices Constitutes One Count of Possession Under 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B), by Douglas Ankney
- Tell Me What I Want to Hear, Not What I Need to Hear: How Confirmation Bias Causes Wrongful Convictions, by Dale Chappell
- Flaws in Mobile Phone Records Free Danish Prisoners, by Jayson Hawkins
- Second Circuit Clarifies Conditions for Releasing a Defendant on Bail to Home Detention With Private Armed Security Guards, by Douglas Ankney
- Eighth Circuit Vacates Sentence for Improper Supervision Length After ACCA Enhancement Removed, by Anthony Accurso
- Oregon Supreme Court Explains PCR ‘Escape Clause’ Availability for Untimely Filed Petitions, by Mark Wilson
- Roadmap for Filing a Second or Successive § 2255 Motion Under Davis, by Dale Chappell
- Law Crazy, Government’s Insatiable Desire to Criminalize All Facets of Life, by Edward Lyon
- Why Juries Need Expert Help Assessing Jailhouse Informants, by Alexandra Natapoff
- Massachusetts Supreme Court Suppresses Evidence Obtained Following Illegally Prolonged Traffic Stop, Orders New Trial, by Douglas Ankney
- How the Secretive 'Discipline' Process for Federal Prosecutors Buries Misconduct Cases, by Brooke Williams, Samata Joshi, Shawn Musgrave
More from Douglas Ankney:
- New Jersey Tightens Reins on Civil Asset Forfeiture, March 18, 2020
- Rhode Island Supreme Court Reverses Conviction Due to Prosecutor’s Remarks and Jury Consideration of Inadmissible Evidence, March 18, 2020
- NYC Drug Prosecutor Bucks Trend of Releasing List of Cops with Credibility Issues, March 18, 2020
- California Supreme Court: Positioning Computer Monitor to Obstruct Defendant’s View of Complaining Witness Violates Confrontation Clause, March 18, 2020
- Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: Police Must Inform Arrested Driver That Passenger Can Assume Custody of Vehicle if Lawful and Practical as Alternative to Impoundment, March 18, 2020
- California Court of Appeal: Hunch That Proves Correct Is Not Reasonable Suspicion for Traffic Stop, March 18, 2020
- Maryland Court of Appeals Announces, When Requested, Trial Courts Must Ask During Voir Dire Whether Jurors Will Follow Court’s Instructions on Presumption of Innocence, Burden of Proof, and Right Not to Testify, March 18, 2020
- Louisiana Supreme Court: When an Identified Attorney Seeks to Assist a Person in Custody and Police Fail to Inform the Person, Inculpatory Statements Must Be Suppressed, March 18, 2020
- D.C. Circuit: 18 U.S.C. § 1114 Does Not Apply Overseas But § 924(c) Does, March 18, 2020
- Third Circuit: Confrontation Clause Violated When Jury Is Told ‘Other Guy’ Referenced in Non-Testifying Codefendant’s Statement Is the Defendant, March 18, 2020
More from these topics:
- Cops Killed Nearly 13 Times More People Than Mass Shooters, March 18, 2020. Police Misconduct, Shootings, Police.
- NYC Drug Prosecutor Bucks Trend of Releasing List of Cops with Credibility Issues, March 18, 2020. Police Misconduct, Prosecutors, Police.
- New Orleans Sheriff’s Office Tracked Cellphones Absent Warrants, March 18, 2020. Search warrants, Police, Fourth Amendment, rights.
- Reform-Minded Prosecutors Use Charging Discretion to Benefit Communities, March 18, 2020. Criminal justice system reform, Prosecutors.
- Third Circuit Holds ‘Bare’ Arrest Record Insufficient to Support Higher Sentence, March 18, 2020. Arrest and Booking, Police.
- Louisiana Supreme Court: When an Identified Attorney Seeks to Assist a Person in Custody and Police Fail to Inform the Person, Inculpatory Statements Must Be Suppressed, March 18, 2020. Police Misconduct, Attorneys, Police.
- Kansas Supreme Court: State Failed to Prove Building Was a Dwelling, March 18, 2020. Arrest and Booking, Police, False Arrest.
- More Trainings Are Not the Answer to Police Violence Against Disabled People, March 18, 2020. Police Misconduct, Police, Excessive Force (Police).
- The Rise of Smart Camera Networks, and Why We Should Ban Them, March 17, 2020. Police, Police State-Surveillance.
- Most States Saw Criminal Justice Reforms in 2019, But Incarceration Rates Remain High, March 4, 2020. Criminal justice system reform.