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Crosscurrents

Families of people killed by police are divided over the bill to change deadly force laws

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Holly J. McDede
/
KALW
Families of people killed by police mobilize in Vallejo.

After Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento police last year, state lawmakers proposed a bill to change the law around when officers can open fire. Activists rallied behind the bill. But when strictest stipulations of the bill were removed to win over law enforcement groups, some withdrew their support. Assembly Bill 392 has now passed the Senate Floor, and California's Governor is expected to sign it. 

"I'm hoping that it will change a whole lot of the stuff that's going on. We can't keep going on, people scared to go outside, scared to drive their cars, that needs to change, that has to change, and until it does, this is what we're going to be doing." - Paula McGowan

Paula McGowan is the mother of Ronell Foster. He was stopped by police in Vallejo for riding his bicycle in the dark without lights. Police say they shot and killed Ronell after he grabbed the officer’s flashlight and held it in a threatening manner. Paula backs the bill that says police can only shoot suspects when considered “necessary.” McGowan feels like this bill represents an important first step towards police accountability.

"I know others believe it's a change, it's a direction towards change, I get that, but I don't see anything changing with what they've taken out." - Rosie Chavez
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Credit Rosie Chavez
Jacob Dominguez with his wife and children.

Jacob Dominguez was unarmed when he was shot and killed by San Jose Police in 2017.  When the use-of-force bill was first proposed, Dominguez’ aunt Rosie Chavez marched with other activists with Silicon Valley De-bug to support the measure. The bill originally required police to deescalate confrontations before opening fire, and Chavez believes that language could have saved her nephew’s life. That part of the measure has since been scrapped, and she no longer feels like the bill will bring lasting change.