Emotion-charged hearing advances bill on police shootings

SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 17: California State Senators speak during a session of the California State Senate February 17, 2009 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California senators are advancing a first-in-the-nation bill to significantly change the standards for when police can open fire, acting after an emotion-charged debate over killings that have recently roiled the country.

The measure passed by a state Senate committee Tuesday would limit police use of deadly force to situations where it is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death to the officer or another person.

California's current "reasonable force" standard makes it rare for officers to be charged after a shooting.

Law enforcement lobbyists objected that the stricter standard could make officers hesitant to approach suspects, for fear their actions could be second-guessed. Democratic senators vehemently rejected the idea that the bill would endanger police officers.

The bill now goes to a second committee.