People who are calling for police accountability, including La Mesa resident Leslie Furcron, spoke Tuesday at a virtual press conference to support Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s bill that aims to create standards for use of force at protests.
Assembly Bill 66 would regulate when and how law enforcement officers can deploy rubber bullets, pepper spray, beanbag rounds and other weapons that are considered “less lethal.” It would also bar officers from using tear gas as a means to control crowds.
Furcron, the 59-year-old grandmother who was injured by a projectile that was deployed by a La Mesa police officer, recalled her experience in being struck by a "less lethal" object as she pushed for the bill to pass.
"I was only at the protest for about seven minutes before I was shot in the head with a bean bag round," she said via Zoom. "I want to make sure people understand that that was not a bean bag like the kind that kids play with; this was a small bag of fabric filled with lead pellets fired out of a shotgun. I would never forget the pain in my head. It felt like I was on fire."
Furcron went on to say that the objects law enforcement officers use to control crowds and protesters should no longer be used.
"People have told me that these are called 'less than lethal' weapons, but my doctors made it clear in my case – it could have been lethal," she said. "These weapons are serious and should never be shot into a crowd like the La Mesa Police Department did with us."
The La Mesa Police Department said it could not offer comment pending an "ongoing personnel investigation into this matter."
The bill, which was introduced by Gonzalez and Assemblymembers Ash Kalra and Cristina Garcia, comes amid heightened calls for racial justice. Sacramento resident Shantania Love and Los Angeles resident Bradley Steyn also shared their experience with police violence during the Tuesday morning virtual press conference.
Protests nationwide have decried police brutality against marginalized communities and demands to defund police departments increased following the killing of George Floyd.
California senators are expected to vote on AB 66 sometime this week.