‘Who protects us?’ Activists push for stricter rules on police use of deadly force
As the California Legislature considers a bill that would tighten restrictions for deadly use of force by law enforcement, the state Department of Justice reported Monday an increase in the number of casualties in 2017 during confrontations between police and suspects.
Two officers and 172 civilians died, mostly from gunshot wounds, according to a report on more than 700 use-of-force incidents across California that resulted in "serious bodily injury or death." Hundreds more were injured. In 2016, five officers and 157 civilians were killed.
In the majority of deaths last year, officers perceived the civilians to be armed, the report found. It did not conclude whether those killings were justified.
The Department of Justice released the data Monday, as required by a state law passed in 2015. Assembly Bill 71, authored by Assemblyman Freddy Rodriguez, D-Pomona, requires California law enforcement agencies to report use-of-force incidents that result in seriously bodily injury, death or involve the discharge of a firearm.
The data does not include the shooting death of Stephon Clark, who was killed by Sacramento police in March.
That incident, which took place in his grandmother's backyard, sparked outrage and demands for more accountability of deadly force by law enforcement officers. Within weeks, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, introduced Assembly Bill 931, which would increase the state standard for lethal use of force from "reasonable" to "necessary."
More than 90 percent of the civilians killed or injured in the 2017 incidents were male, according to the justice department report. Roughly 44 percent were Hispanic, 30 percent were white and 19 percent were black.
Nearly 60 percent of the officers involved in use-of-force incidents were white. About a third were Hispanic, roughly 5 percent were Asian, and about 4 percent were black.
The vast majority of their injuries took place while officers were arresting people or taking them into custody.