California Governor Signs 'Stephon Clark Law' To Combat Excessive Force By Police
A California law that will change the standards for use of excessive force by police has been signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, The Los Angeles Times reports. The Assembly Bill 392 was signed into law on Monday (Aug. 19) and will be named the “Stephon Clark Law," which honors the 22-year-old who was fatally shot by Sacramento police in his grandmother’s backyard. Local authorities believe he pointed a gun at them and was responsible for a theft in the area.
"They didn't have to kill him like that. They didn't have to shoot him that many times,” Clark’s grandmother said in a press conference last year. "Why didn't you just shoot him in the arm, shoot him in the leg, send the dogs, send a taser. Why? Why? Y'all didn't have to do that."
The law’s new language will state that officers could only use deadly excessive force when deemed “necessary” not within “reasonable” range, which is what the law currently states now. Reportedly, the mandate also prohibits authorities from firing at fleeing suspects who don’t pose any danger on the scene. The law goes into effect in January 2020.
“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.
Initially, though, law enforcement was not keen on this new law and rebutted the bill until it was reformed to their liking. “This is Stephon Clark’s law,” his brother, Stevante Clark told the L.A. Times. “The cost, the price that had to be paid for this, it hurts...I hate that this had to come out of such a tragic situation, but at the same time, it helps the healing process to know his name could possibly prevent something like this from happening again.”
“The bill is watered down, everybody knows that,” he continued. “But at least we are getting something done. At least we are having the conversation now.”