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Legislators consider bills on use of deadly force by law enforcement

— A legislative task force recommended lawmakers amend the statute protecting law enforcement officers from prosecution if they use deadly force.

Current law bars an officer from being charged if he or she acted without malice and in good faith to protect themselves and the public.

The Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing joint task force recommended references to “malice” and “good faith” be removed. The task force proposes criminal-liability protection for officers who, at the time of a confrontation, simply believe use of deadly force is necessary.

House Bill 1000 and Senate Bill 5000 — sponsored by Rep. Beth Doglio, D-Olympia, and Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, respectively — would require it.

“When you have a law that says an officer won’t be held liable no matter what happens, that’s a problem,” McCoy said.

The amendments would bring Washington in line with the rest of the country, state American Civil Liberties Union Legislative Director Elisabeth Smith said. Washington is the only state in the nation that considers “without malice” and “good faith” as criteria for the use of deadly force.

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