NY Attorney General introduces legislation to overhaul police UOF

AG Letitia James said the bill would amend the current law "from one of simple necessity to one of absolute last resort"


By Stephen Rex Brown
New York Daily News

ALBANY, N.Y. — State law governing use of deadly force by police officers would be overhauled under legislation proposed by state Attorney General Letitia James on Friday.

James said the bill would “amend the use of force law from one of simple necessity to one of absolute last resort.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James addresses a news conference at her office, in New York, Friday, May 21, 2021.
New York Attorney General Letitia James addresses a news conference at her office, in New York, Friday, May 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

“If there is a way to accomplish the officer’s objective without the use of lethal force, we should absolutely demand they take the other path,” James said.

The proposal would simply revise the law to reflect police patrol guides on use of force, she added.

“The goal is to reduce the death — and I say eliminate the death of unarmed and people of color,” added Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner.

Prosecutors’ efforts to hold police accountable for deadly shootings have been hindered by the state’s use of force law, Carr said.

The current law, James argued, is too permissive.

“For far too long, police officers in this country have been able to evade accountability for the unjustified use of excessive and lethal force,” she said.

“In New York, our laws have essentially given police blanket defense to use force in interactions with the public, making it exceedingly difficult for prosecutors to go after officers who have abused this power. Not only is that gravely unjust, but it has also proven to be incredibly dangerous.”

Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said he was opposed to the bill.

“This sweeping proposal would make it impossible for police officers to determine whether or not we are permitted to use force in a given situation. The only reasonable solution will be to avoid confrontations where force might become necessary. Meanwhile, violent criminals certainly aren’t hesitating to use force against police officers or our communities. The bottom line: more cops and more regular New Yorkers are going to get hurt.” Lynch said.

©2021 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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