State legislature proposes legislation to reform when police use of force is considered acceptable

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ALBANY, NY – New York Attorney General Letitia James has collaborated with members of the state legislature to create legislation that would change when police use of force is considered acceptable.

NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca has more on the proposal and what law enforcement has to say about it.

{{Tish James, NYS Attorney General}} “In New York it is exceedingly difficult to prosecute police officers who kill civilians because of an expansive justification law that gives officers extraordinary wide latitude.”

But, legislation introduced in the state legislature aims to change that.

It’s called the Police Accountability Act.

It requires officers to first “exhaust alternatives, including de-escalation, lower levels of force, verbal warnings, and other methods.”

{{Tish James, NYS Attorney General}} “The centerpiece of this effort is to amend the use of force law to one of simple necessity to one of absolute last resort.”

If someone is simply suspected of criminal conduct, that alone cannot be used as a justification for lethal force.

The bill is supported by Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr.

Garner was killed in 2014 by police choke hold.

{{Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s Mother}} “We are tired of having our black and brown murdered by the police, our unarmed black and brown.”

The bill also gives prosecutors a mechanism to evaluate if a police officer’s conduct led to the need to use force.

Peter Kehoe with the New York State Sheriffs’ Association says for starters, he finds the name of the legislation insulting, and he says it’s impractical.

{{Peter Kehoe, New York State Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director}} “It creates second guessing of everything a police officer does.”

The bill also sets criminal penalties for excessive use of force by police officers.

In Albany, Corina Cappabianca.

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