Black Alliance of Thurston County

Washington can be a model for the nation. 
The Joint Legislative Task on Use of Deadly Force in Policing has recommended that the “without malice and with a good faith belief” defense should be removed from State Law to improve police accountability. We applaud their work and are working on closing the other gaps in state law. ​

The heart of this campaign is to reduce violence. 

The goal is to reduce violent interactions by making use of deadly force the last resort, and other tactics the first resort. Police have to make split second decisions, and focusing on these tactics will reduce the frequency of use of deadly force. Police should use deadly force only if necessary. 


Revise RCW 9A.16.040 so that:

  •  Sanctity of Life is the paramount value.
  •   Use of deadly force is a last resort.
  •   De-escalation and less lethal alternatives are the  first resort.
  •   Deadly force is used only when “necessary.”
  •   The force used by police is proportional to the threat the officer or third party faces.
  •  Accountability includes criminal liability for uses of force that are not justified.


CHICAGO: Officer Van Dyke kills 17-­year-­old Laquan McDonald, shooting him sixteen times. 


CINCINNATI: Officer Ray Tensing kills unarmed 43-­year-­old Sam Dubose at a license plate stop.

 
CLEVELAND: Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback kill 12-­year-­old Tamir Rice. 


CALIFORNIA: Police kill unarmed Ricardo Diaz-­Zeferino who has his hands in the air. 

POSITION PAPER

Reduce Violence, Restore Trust Make Use of Deadly Force the Last Resort 

WASH​INGTON STATE LAW – EGREGIOUS
“Washington — it’s the most egregious,” said Jamira Burley, an Amnesty International official who handles gun violence and criminal justice issues,” according to the Seattle Times.


​​​​TO BE CLEAR – OUR LAW IS NOT HELPFUL TO ANYONE 
Washington’s law is not working. To promote effective policing and preserve public trust, we must be able to hold officers accountable for irresponsible behavior. The requirement to prove “evil intent” leaves citizens vulnerable to the misuse of force.   Our law is demoralizing to the police, destructive to the public, and an embarrassment to the State.

The shooting that occurred in Pasco, Washington in February 2015 is a clear example of what is wrong with the law. Antonio Zambrano-­‐Montes was throwing rocks at the police. He was shot dead and charges were not filed.

“The Prosecutor found that the incident did not meet the high standard for criminal prosecution of officers under state law, which requires showing that the officers acted with malice and without good faith” “The prosecutor’s statement clearly shows the need to amend our state law for use of deadly force by law enforcement,” said Kathleen Taylor, ACLU of Washington executive director, in a statement.” Tri-­‐City Herald 9/10/15.​

Our Laws Should Reflect our Values – Liberty, Dignity, Respect 
The liberty interests of each person is key to democracy. Every person’s life has inherent value. Each person should be treated with dignity and respect. Our law enforcement agencies have a significant role in promoting and protecting these values in our communities. Central to this is how police manage their authority to use deadly force. Police Executive Research Forum Taking Policing to a Higher Standard: 30 Guiding Principles. January 29, 2016. ​​​

Examples, from Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and California, illustrate the problem with Washington State law.  The police officers likely could not have been charged in this state.

Even in the very worst cases, Washington State Law likely would not allow prosecutors to charge police