BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — A new bill, Assembly Bill 392, has been signed into law on Monday by Governor Gavin Newsroom that addresses when it is appropriate for officers to use deadly force.
Christopher Silva brother to David Silva who died on May 2013 after nine sheriff's deputies and other officers tried to take Silva into custody. The authorities then used force, Silva later dying.
“I think any bill that passes that can save innocent lives is great," said Silva. "Just as long bad officers are held accountable we are good.”
Silva says his brother tried to receive medical attention at Kern Medical and a mental health facility but was turned away. He says if this bill was in place earlier it could have made a difference in how the deputies approached his brother.
"Maybe if this bill was in place his life could have been saved," said Silva. "Deadly force is not always the option especially if someone is on the ground unable to protect themselves."
AB 392 changes the language of the current law, which states currently “law enforcement use deadly force when it's reasonable” soon it will read when it is necessary.
The current Penal Code for California on the deadly force has not been updated since the 1800S. Sgt. Nathan McCauley, Public Information Officer, of Bakersfield Police Department says they have upheld the current Federal law which this new law will now mirror.
"Now, the law shows if a situation gets to the deadly force encounter and they may have had a reason to believe that person posed a great boldly threat, at that point if they caused this by poor decision making before that then they can be held responsible," said McCauley.
In the bill, it states, deadly force means "any use of force that creates a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury, including, but not limited to, the discharge of a firearm.”
McCauley says that they expect officers to do everything they can to make the best decisions in these situations.
"To ask officers to use force only when necessary across the board is a tall thing to ask," said McCauley.
"That is how we hope everything to go. We hope officers who are going through this make the best moral, educated decisions they can but it's difficult in a split-second decision."
McCauley says that they currently practice de-escalation and further training tactics and says that both sides in a situation need to practice de-escalation.
"I think the state placing emphasis on this will cause us to place more emphasis on it, I know that this expectation of the state," McCauley said. "We want to equip our officers with the best skill set to avoid deadly force encounters."
The law will take effect on January first of 2020.