In summary

Reporter Laurel Rosenhall explains what California’s new police use-of-force law means for police and citizens.

In the culmination of one of the fiercest political battles of the year, California will have a new legal standard tightening the rules around when police can use deadly force.

Flanked by lawmakers, activists and family members of people who have been killed by police, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the new standard, which will take effect the first day of 2020.

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After unarmed Stephon Clark was killed by Sacramento police last year, the Legislature attempted to pass a new use-of-force standard, but the bill stalled. Its sponsor, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat, vowed to keep working at it until it prevailed.

The new standard is a compromise between police and civil rights groups. It will legally permit police to use deadly force only when “necessary in defense of human life.” That’s a steeper standard than prosecutors apply now, which says officers can shoot when doing so is “reasonable.”

In this video, CalMatters news analyst Laurel Rosenhall — who has closely followed the legislation all year — breaks down how the change will affect police officers and citizens.

For more on California’s attempt to reduce police shootings, listen to Rosenhall’s “Force Of Law” podcast, available available on Apple Podcasts or other podcasting platforms.

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Byrhonda Lyons is a national award-winning video journalist for CalMatters. She creates compelling multimedia stories about how California policy affects people’s everyday lives. From the state’s mental...

Laurel covers California politics for CalMatters, with a focus on power and personalities in the statehouse. Her stories explain political dynamics in the Capitol and examine how money, advocacy and relationships...