The Latest: Deal on police shooting law under scrutiny
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Latest on a compromise measure to overhaul Washington’ controversial law on police shootings (all times local):
A compromise measure to overhaul Washington’s controversial law on police shootings might run afoul of the state Constitution.
Lawmakers on Tuesday were working to quickly pass the measure, which supporters say would make it easier to prosecute police who commit wrongful shootings while still protecting those who make honest mistakes.
However, the measure was initially proposed as an initiative to the Legislature. According to the state Constitution, if the Legislature doesn’t pass such an initiative as-is, it must be sent to the voters on the November ballot.
In this case, lawmakers are trying to pass the initiative as-is, while immediately amending it with compromise language hammered out between supporters, police organizations and prosecutors. A 1971 opinion from the Washington Attorney General’s Office suggests that’s not allowed.
Washington lawmakers are moving quickly to pass a compromise measure that supporters say would make it easier to prosecute police who commit wrongful shootings while still protecting those who make honest mistakes.
The News Tribune reports that the deal, announced at a public hearing Tuesday in Olympia, could end years of wrestling over a state law that makes it uniquely difficult for prosecutors to bring charges against officers who commit negligent or reckless shootings.
Activists had gathered signatures for an initiative to change the law, and it was expected to be on the ballot in November if lawmakers declined to approve it. But with some changes, influential police and prosecutor groups agreed to support the measure in a deal to keep it off the ballot.
The existing law requires that prosecutors prove an officer acted with malice — a hurdle no other state has. Under the new measure, such determinations would consider what a “reasonable officer” might have done under the circumstances.
Information from: The News Tribune, http://www.thenewstribune.com