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California lawmakers consider bills focusing on police use of force

Posted at 7:15 PM, May 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-28 22:36:34-04

Two bills regarding police use of force and justifiable homicides are heading to the California State Assembly floor this week.

These bills come at a time when the California Peace Officers Association says crimes against police officers are rising across the state but officer-involved shootings are decreasing. Despite this, the Giles family believes different training would have allowed their loved one to still be here today.

“I remember the last words Michael said to me the day before he was killed – ‘I love you dad,'” said Jack Giles Jr., father of Michael Giles.

In 2016, the 27-year-old man was killed by Lompoc police officers in what was determined to be a justifiable homicide.

In documents obtained by KSBY, the Lompoc police officer who killed Giles said he believed his life was at risk when confronting Giles, who was intoxicated and holding a knife.

“I think every situation is different and I know things happen very quickly but I personally don’t think that was reason enough. It wasn’t like it was gun to a gun,” said LeAunna Giles, Michael’s sister.

Now new bills are moving through the state legislature. AB-392 would redefine what makes a justifiable homicide and SB-230 could bring in new training initiatives for alternatives to use of force and funding resources for that training.

“(With the new bill AB-392) force is viewed from the objectively reasonable eyes of the law enforcement officer. So it gives law enforcement in California something they can better train officers on regarding on how force is used because it’s more aligned with case law that’s been vetted,” explained Deputy Director of the California Peace Officers’ Association, Shaun Rundle.

The California Peace Officers Association has been working alongside legislators to ensure proper wording because every situation is different. They say officer-involved shootings are becoming infrequent across the state and use of force declined by 40 percent in California in 2018.

“Assaults against officers with a firearm in California increased from 2016 to 2017 by over 25 percent; so we don’t think it accurately tells the story of what’s going on. The way the language reads now if it is signed into law and goes into effect next year, it’s something law enforcement could live with,” Rundle said.

The Giles family says they’d also like to see training for officers on how to deal with people who are intoxicated or on drugs. They say they look forward to the passing of these bills.