Current Status of Assembly Bill 931
As of October 16, 2018, Assembly Bill 931 is in the Senate Rules Committee of the California State legislature.
Assembly Bill 931 aims to reduce the use of deadly force by law enforcement in California. Above all, it declares that every person has a right to be free from excessive force by officers acting under color of law.
First, officers would be required to deescalate a situation when it is safe, feasible, and reasonable. Officers may use time, distance, communications, and available resources to deescalate. However, officers would not be required to retreat before using force.
Next, it would limit the use of deadly force by a peace officer to those situations where it is necessary. Force is necessary if an objectively reasonable peace officer in the same situation would conclude that there was no reasonable alternative to the use of deadly force.
Further, the officer would have to believe that deadly force would prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury to the peace officer or to another person.
Furthermore, Assembly Bill 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.
Use of Force When the Suspect Flees
Additionally, AB 931 would limit the use of deadly force by a peace officer against a person fleeing from arrest or imprisonment. During flight situations, officers could only use deadly force if:
- The officer has probable cause to believe that:,
- The person has committed a felony involving serious bodily injury or death, OR
- The person 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.
2020 Start Date
Assembly Bill 931’s changes toPenal Code 835a would become effective January 1, 2020. This would allow law enforcement the time needed to retrain officers on the use of deadly force.
Under current law, officers may use reasonable force to make an arrest, prevent escape, or overcome resistance. Before doing so, the officers must have reasonable cause to believe that the suspect has committed a public offense.
Officers need not retreat or desist due to resistance or threatened resistance of the suspect. An officer is not an aggressor and may use reasonable force in self-defense.