After years spent demanding justice and working so that no other family would have to feel her pain, Rocio Zamora is celebrating.
“To be able to see the tangible change that we created, despite the torment of losing a loved one to police terror is really powerful,” said Zamora.
She said her hard work and dedication to try and put a stop to excessive, and sometimes deadly, force by police paid off when Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law eight measures aimed at holding law enforcement officers accountable for misconduct.
“It gives me a lot of hope to see what changes we can make,” said Zamora.
Zamora said she participated in the drafting process of two of the bills:
Assembly Bill 481 will require law enforcement agencies to receive approval from their governing bodies like the city council before acquiring military gear.
Senate Bill 2 creates a system to investigate and revoke or suspend peace officer certification for serious misconduct.
Zamora got involved with the legislation after a fatal incident between her cousin and a San Diego County Sheriff's Deputy in 2017.
“My cousin was shot by our San Diego Sheriff's Deputy who had already shot somebody else, just months before he shot my cousin,” said Zamora. “And he shot him in a similar manner. He shot Sergio 28 times and he left my cousin with 22 gunshot wounds.”
According to the SDSO, 24-year-old Jonathan Coronel, a documented gang member, led deputies on a foot pursuit that ended in a confrontation where a deputy shot and killed him.
The department said the deputy feared for his life.
“That's what brought me into it,” said Zamora. “And I think, you know, the support of the other families and seeing how powerful they were is also what kept me going through the process as well."
Despite these sweeping reforms, Zamora said there is more to be done.
“We need to start investing in marginalized communities and funding resources for education, housing, for healthcare,” said Zamora.
But she says this is a step in the right direction.
Here are all eight of the law enforcement-focused bills signed by the governor:
- AB 26 by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) – Peace officers: use of force. This creates guidelines for police officers to intercede and report if another officer is using excessive force.
- AB 48 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) – Law enforcement: use of force. This restricts law enforcement officers’ use of kinetic projectile weapons, such as rubber bullets, and chemical agents, such as tear gas.
- AB 89 by Assemblymember Reggie Jones Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) – Peace officers: minimum qualifications. This raises the minimum age for officers from 18 to 21.
- AB 481 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) – Law enforcement and state agencies: military equipment: funding, acquisition, and use.
- AB 490 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) – Law enforcement agency policies: arrests: positional asphyxia. This bans techniques and transport methods that involve the risk of positional asphyxia.
- AB 958 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) – Peace officers: law enforcement gangs. The bill would require an agency to disclose an officer's termination to another law enforcement agency conducting a pre-employment background investigation of that officer.
- SB 2 by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) – Peace officers: certification: civil rights.
- SB 16 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Peace officers: release of records. This increases the transparency of peace officer misconduct records pertaining to findings of unreasonable or excessive use of force, discriminatory or prejudiced behavior, failure to intervene when witnessing excessive use of force by a peace officer, or participation in unlawful searches and arrests.