Flanked by San Diego lawmakers, including the author of the bill, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 392 into law in hopes it will modernize use of force standards for California law enforcement agents.
The ACLU said AB 392 is one of the strongest laws in the country pertaining to the prevention of officer-involved shootings.
Some call it the "Stephon Clark Law" in honor of an unarmed man who was killed by Sacramento police in 2018. But it wasn't just only Clark's story that inspired the authors to push the law through; it was a series of officer-involved shootings including one here, in San Diego.
Alfred Olango was shot to death by El Cajon police officers in September 2016. Standing alongside other family members of people killed by police officers in California, Olango's youngest brother, Tony Abuka, watched Newsom sign the bill into law.
“I saw it as if it could happen to him it could happen to anyone, it definitely could happen to me,” Abuka said.
AB 392 redefines what it means for a police officer to make a justified killing. The old law said deadly force must be "reasonable" in the given situation. The new law states officers can use deadly force only when "necessary" to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious injury to officers or others.
San Diego Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber authored the bill and promised it will make Californians safer. The San Diego Police Officers Association said the law is a good compromise.
“Obviously we don't want officers using force when it doesn't need to be used, but if it needs to be used it needs to be used appropriately,” SDPOA President Jack Schaeffer said.
While the street and surrounding neighborhood in El Cajon where Olango was killed remains largely the same three years later, because of what happened there, the state has changed.
“I understand my brother's death is nothing that can be reversed, but I also understand it can create a lot of change,” Abuka said.
This law is expected to go into effect in January 2020.
Another police reform law Californians can look out for is SB 230. The bill would require law enforcement agencies to maintain use of force policy guidelines, and develop training courses on racial profiling, domestic violence, hate crimes, vehicle pursuits, human trafficking and other topics.