New Use of Force Regulations
- By: Kelsey Walsh
New laws restricting use of force by police were passed by Governor Newsom this year in response to the public outcry spurred by the events which took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the ultimate death of George Floyd. Protests took place in every state across the nation decrying police brutality. While every state was forced to examine these issues, no state enacted stricter legislation in response to these issues than California. Most notably, AB 1196 prohibits the use of carotid restraints or choke holds, period. AB 1196 prohibits police agencies from even proscribing such a tactic as an option in their own use of force policy manuals beginning January 1, 2020. However, a closer examination of this issue reveals that this legislation may have unintended results. If carotid restraints are now eliminated as a non-deadly use of force option from a police officer, what effect does that have on police encounters going forward?
Penal Code section 835(a)(b) allows a police officer to use objectively reasonable force to effect the arrest, to prevent the escape, or to overcome resistance. A police officer is justified in using deadly force upon another person only when the officer reasonably believes, based on the totality of circumstances, that such force is necessary to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person, to apprehend a fleeing person for any felony that threatened or resulted in death of serious bodily injury, if the police officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or serious bodily injury to another unless immediately apprehended. The elimination of non-deadly force options from a police officer’s toolbox may ultimately accelerate a police officer’s use of deadly force or result in abandoned criminal contacts.