New California law tightens rules on police use of force

A bill meant to reduce the number of police shootings was signed into law in California, making the state's standards regarding police use of deadly force among the toughest in the country.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed Assembly Bill 392, which requires that law enforcement use deadly force only when "necessary," instead of the previous wording of when it is "reasonable," The Los Angeles Times reported.

It also prohibits police from firing at suspects who are fleeing and don't pose an immediate danger.

The legislation came as a response to officer-involved shootings, such as that of Stephon Clark, a 23-year-old, unarmed black man who was shot and killed outside of his grandparents' house in Sacramento when police mistook his cellphone for a gun, USA Today reported.

“The bill is watered down, everybody knows that,” Stevante Clark, brother of Stephon Clark, told the Times. "But at least we are getting something done. At least we are having the conversation now.”

Newsom signed the bill in a ceremony at the secretary of state's courtyard surrounded by dozens of residents who had lost loved ones to police violence, the Times reported. He said the new law will reduce the number of deaths and will help to heal communities.

"As California goes, so goes the rest of the United States of America," he said. "And we are doing something today that stretches the boundaries of possibility and sends a message to people all across this country — that they can do more."

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, is seen as the driving force of the bill, NPR reported. The law "basically changes the culture of policing in California," Weber said Monday.

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

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