01:55 - Source: CNN
When can police shoot?
CNN  — 

Activists in California, still angry after no police officers were charged in Stephon Clark’s fatal shooting, want to raise the legal threshold for when officers can use deadly force.

Meanwhile, the state’s police unions and groups affiliated with law enforcement pretty much want things to remain the same. To that end, they’re asking the state to codify existing best practices for when deadly force can be used by officers.

Each side has a bill espousing its point of view that’s working its way through the state Assembly. But in a surprise legislative maneuver aimed at reaching a compromise, the fate of the bills have been linked together, which would raise California’s deadly-force standard to perhaps the highest in the nation.

Seeking a new standard

The bill favored by the activists, Assembly Bill 392, would “authorize officers to use deadly force only when it is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death,” the bill’s sponsor, state Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, said back in February when she introduced it.

Using deadly force against a fleeing suspect would only be justifiable in the officer’s self-defense or the defense of another person if the officer believes the suspect will harm someone else unless stopped.

Weber’s legislation would also require officers to attempt to defuse a situation before using lethal force. Family and friends of Clark – a 22-year-old black man who was shot and killed in his grandmother’s backyard by Sacramento police in 2018 – and the ACLU have also publicly spoken in favor of the bill.

The fate of the two bills is joined

But law enforcement-affiliated groups oppose Weber’s bill and instead back Senate Bill 230, which would codify into law the existing use-of-force rules while also stressing de-escalation and focusing on additional training for police. That bill is sponsored by state Sen. Anna Caballero.

The fate of the two pieces of legislation became linked together when Caballero pulled the “use of force” wording from her bill because it would have set a different legal standard for it than Weber’s bill.

So if law enforcement supporters of Cabellero’s bill want the rest of her legislation to succeed, they’ll have to accept passage of Weber’s bill.

“My bill is linked with hers,” Caballero told the Sacramento Bee. “If her bill doesn’t get through, it all disappears. I don’t think any of us want this to disappear.”

Both bills are still in committee and have not yet come up for votes in the full state Assembly or state Senate. CNN has reached out to Weber and Caballero and is waiting to hear back.

CNN’s Dakin Andone contributed to this report.