Between 2005 and 2014, police in the state of Washington killed more than 200 of their fellow citizens. Some of the deaths were deemed “justifiable,” but many crossed the boundaries of what anyone would consider “reasonable.” There was a case where police shot a drunken man through his rear window and another where they shot a woodcarver because they spotted him with a knife ... and a block of wood.
In fact, in the 213 Washington police shooting deaths between 2005 and 2014 that were examined by the Seattle Times, only one single cop was convicted.
That unbelievable statistic is partly due to a 1986 law that effectively made it nearly impossible to convict a cop of killing someone in Washington state. To find a law enforcement officer guilty of use of deadly force, prosecutors in the state were required to disprove four things:
- The officer reasonably believed the suspect was attempting to commit a felony;
- The officer believed that his life was in danger, or that others’ lives were in danger;
- Force was “necessary;” and most importantly ...
- The officer acted “without malice” and in “good faith.”
It was the fourth provision that was troubling. In Washington state, “malice” is defined as an “evil intent” or an “abandoned and malignant heart.” If a prosecutor couldn’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a cop who killed someone in cold blood was evil or heartless, the officer couldn’t be convicted.
While lawmakers and activists had been trying to get the law changed for years, on Thursday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee finally signed into law a bill that removed the “malice” requirement from the law enforcement prosecution standard, showing how legislators can come together for the sake of the communities they represent.
HAHAHAHAHAHA! I’m just bullshitting. They had no choice but to pass it.
Had the legislation not passed, the measure would have gone up for a vote as a referendum this fall. The state’s politicians have been debating the change for more than two years, with police unions and law enforcement groups lobbying against it, even though polls showed that Washington citizens favored the measure by 75 percent. The Legislature’s version signed Thursday gives police input on new deadly-force rules, whereas the public referendum wouldn’t have necessarily done so, according to The Stranger.
That’s right. It was money from lobbyists that held the law up for so long, and the only thing that changed was when the will of the people put the lawmakers between a rock and a hard place. (If you’ve never leaned against a stack of dollar bills from police unions and corrections officers, let me tell you—it’s as hard as a rock.)
The elected officials were not moved by Washington’s surge in police killings, like the death of Charlena Lyles, the 30-year-old pregnant mother of four shot at least seven times in her home by Seattle police officers.
Again, it was the money that did it, which explains their reluctance to change the law. Because when it comes to causing the deaths of citizens through their reckless actions, there is only one way to describe the 30-plus years that lawmakers allowed killer police officers to walk away scot-free: