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Tue Aug 13, 2019, 10:15 AM

It Isn't Much to Ask That Cops Have a Higher Standard for Killing People

It Isn’t Much to Ask That Cops Have a Higher Standard for Killing People
Two House Democrats marked the fifth anniversary of the Ferguson uprising by proposing police officers use force as a “last resort”
By Jamil Smith

Stephon Clark lived and died in Sacramento. When the 22-year-old father of two was shot and killed by local cops after a foot chase in the spring of 2018, it provoked the largest national uproar over a police killing of an unarmed black man since the groundswell of protests that began with the death of Michael Brown and the Ferguson uprising five years ago this week. The Sacramento officers who took Clark’s life were not charged with any crime.

It didn’t happen in Rep. Ro Khanna’s district, but it was close enough. The Philadelphia-born Democratic Congressman representing the nearby 17th District of California recalled what he did as he tried to make sense of Clark’s death.

“It seemed just like another case of a young man’s life being taken without any rationale,” Khanna told Rolling Stone Friday in a phone interview. “And so after Stephon Clark, I had a conversation over breakfast with Reverend [Al] Sharpton. He said, ‘Look, if you really want to do something, this is what’s consequential: Change the actual standard. The ghost of Rehnquist still haunts us. Go propose federal legislation to change the standard.’”

What Sharpton was referring to was the varying measure of determining what is and what isn’t excessive force by law enforcement. The “ghost” he spoke of is the unanimous 1989 Graham v. Connor decision under then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist. That ruling ostensibly established an “objectively reasonable” standard for excessive use-of-force claims under the Fourth Amendment, which protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures. The ruling has been more elastic in practice, often allowing officers to escape legal and even departmental sanction for killings and heinous abuses.

Both Khanna and Rep. Lacy Clay of Missouri, who represents Ferguson, are now trying to create a law that actually honors the spirit of the Graham v. Connor decision: establish a national standard for the use of force by police. The PEACE Act would “change the use of force to be a last resort, rather than a first resort, and require officers to employ de-escalation techniques,” according to their joint statement.



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Reply It Isn't Much to Ask That Cops Have a Higher Standard for Killing People (Original post)
babylonsister Tuesday OP
Mike 03 Tuesday #1
MarvinGardens Tuesday #2

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Aug 13, 2019, 10:39 AM

1. This idea is so much preferable to the standard I keep hearing lately

which is "I felt threatened" or "I feared for my life" even in cases where the person who ended up dead was running away and had no weapons.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Aug 13, 2019, 10:44 AM

2. Agree, we must change the laws. It will make the greatest difference.

And if the federal law won't pass, we get them passed state by state.

These killer cops are being exonerated by juries, grand juries, and prosecutors. Often when they go to trial they are not-guilty verdicts, not hung juries. That tells us it is not merely a few racist holdouts. Either all 12 of the jurors are flaming racists / fascists, or the jurors are following the laws that allow a cop to say "I feared for my life", and that becomes a license to kill.

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