Assembly Bill 392 was signed by the Governor. This is the piece of legislation that changes the use of force standard in California. This bill will become effective as of January 1, 2020.
Here are some important highlights of the legislation:
- AB 392 changes Penal Code 196 and 835(a).
- Use of force must be “objectively reasonable” rather than “reasonable”, meaning it is no longer a subjective standard. Now the standard is what a reasonable officer would think.
- Any peace officer who has reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a public offense may use objectively reasonable force to effect the arrest, to prevent escape, or to overcome resistance.
- Deadly force can only be used when necessary to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person. (see definition of imminent threat in bill language)
- That the decision by a peace officer to use force shall be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable officer in the same situation, based on the totality of the circumstances known to or perceived by the officer at the time.
- Individuals with physical, mental health, developmental or intellectual disabilities are more likely to experience greater use of force. Officers will need to take this into consideration as these individuals may not have the ability to comply or follow commands based upon their disability.
- When apprehending a fleeing felon it must be for a felony that threatened or resulted in death or serious bodily injury AND the officer must reasonably believe that the person will cause death or serious bodily injury to another unless immediately apprehended. ADDITIONALLY, when feasible a peace officer shall, prior to the use of force, make reasonable efforts to identify themselves as a peace officer to warn that deadly force may be used.
- Deadly force should not be used when the danger is just to the subject only (i.e. solo suicide subject) and/or the officer believes the subject does not pose an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the peace officer or another person.
Read the final version of the bill here.