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Santa Cruz ACLU Hosts Forum on Excessive Force
by ACLU Santa Cruz County (
Wednesday Oct 24th, 2018 12:40 PM
Panelists Engage in Robust Discussion on Police Practises
On Thursday night, October 18 at the Resource Center for Nonviolence, ACLU Santa Cruz County hosted a panel discussion addressing excessive force and police practices. Co-sponsored by the NAACP Santa Cruz County Chapter, the panel discussion featured Pacific Grove Police Chief Amy Christey, Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris, Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills and local Public Defender and candidate for Superior Court Judge Zack Schwarzbach. The discussion was framed and prefaced by a statement read by NAACP Santa Cruz Chapter President and ACLU Santa Cruz Board Member Brenda Griffin:

"There is a national crisis of police misconduct and use of often-lethal force. While the regressive policies coming from the current U.S. Justice Department are discouraging, we must diligently work on the state and local level to keep law enforcement practices more in line with the civil liberties we hold dear. This past year, Assembly Member Shirley Weber of San Diego introduced a bill to address this problem, AB 931 - Use of Force by Peace Officers. I will summarize the essential information in AB 931 to frame our conversation tonight:

Existing law authorizes a peace officer to make an arrest pursuant to a warrant or based upon probable cause, as specified.

Under existing law, an arrest is made by the actual restraint of the person or by submission to the custody of the arresting officer.

Existing law authorizes a peace officer to use reasonable force to effect the arrest, to prevent escape, or to overcome resistance.

Existing law does not require an officer to retreat or desist from an attempt to make an arrest because of resistance or threatened resistance of the person being arrested.

AB 931 would require peace officers to attempt to control an incident by using time, distance, communications, and available resources in an effort to deescalate a situation whenever it is safe, feasible, and reasonable to do so.

Under existing law, the use of deadly force resulting in the death of a person is justified when it was necessarily committed in overcoming actual resistance to an arrest, when it was necessarily committed in apprehending a felon who had escaped from custody, or when it was necessarily committed in arresting a person charged with a felony and who was fleeing from justice or resisting arrest.

Existing case law prohibits the use of deadly force by a peace officer unless, among other criteria, there is a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or another.

AB 931 would limit the use of deadly force, as defined, by a peace officer to those situations where it is necessary, as defined, to defend against a threat of imminent and serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to another person, as specified.

AB 931 would prohibit the use of deadly force by a peace officer in a situation where an individual poses a risk only to himself or herself.

AB 931 would also limit the use of deadly force by a peace officer against a person fleeing from arrest or imprisonment to only those situations in which the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed, or intends to commit, a felony involving serious bodily injury or death, and there is a threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person if the subject is not immediately apprehended."

AB 931 would make these provisions operative as of January 1, 2020 had it been passed into law. Unfortunately, it was held back by the legislature but may be taken up again in the future.

The YouTube of the entire discussion may be viewed at:

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