As SPD’s report on Lyles fatal shooting released, I-940 makes last push for signatures

(Image: Alliance for Gun Responsibility)

Organizers pushing for Initiative 940 to provide law enforcement officers more training on de-escalating lethal situations while eliminating Washington’s so-called “malice standard” for prosecuting police killings say they want to be doubly sure they have enough signatures to quality for the ballot. Meanwhile, the Seattle Police Department has released documents and the final report from the use of force investigation in the summer fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles.

De-Escalate WA came to Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson for a Sunday afternoon rally as part of a final push for signatures. Organizers say they have been able to collect thousands more signatures than the 260,000 required to make it on the ballot but want to continue to push for somewhere near 350,000 to make sure the initiative has enough valid signees by the December 29th deadline. Meeting the goal means either the state legislature must move ahead on changing the laws or the proposals will go to the ballot in 2018. 

CHS reported on the De-Escalate WA effort in November as a crowd representing 33 different families impacted by police killings gathered at City Hall in support of I-940. “What else did we think would come with this when the police are investigating themselves,” said Katrina Johnson, Lyles’ cousin. “They keep killing people and getting away with it.”

Families of those shot by police speak out for I-940

I-940 would require and change a number of police practices and standards. It calls for police to have de-escalation, first aid, and mental health training. Officers must also provide first aid at the scene under certain circumstances. I-940 would establish a good faith standard for the use of deadly force and requires an independent investigation when it results in death or injury. Organizers hope the changes will also push aside Washington’s 1986 law (RCW 9A.16.040) that says police cannot be criminally liable for employing deadly force if they did so without malice and with a good faith belief that such an act is justifiable.

De-Escalate WA says Mayor Jenny Durkan is among local officials who support the initiative. Seattle’s police union does not:

If you want to add your name to the list, check out deescalatewa.org/calendar.

Meanwhile, the SPD Force Review Board Officer Involved Shooting report and documents from the investigation released this week shed little new light on the Lyle’s killing. The officers told the review board about their concerns about the mentally ill mother but also described a routine dispatch on June 18th until they say Lyles suddenly and without warning attacked them with knives:

Neither officer was wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting. The officers contend — and the board agreed — they had no alternative but deadly force:


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