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Ruling puts I-940 to change state law hindering prosecution of wrongful police shootings on November ballot

I-940, a measure that will provide more training on de-escalating lethal situations and make it easier to prosecute law enforcement officers accused of unnecessary deadly force by eliminating Washington’s “malice standard” for police shootings, will be on the November ballot without changes, the state’s high court ruled this week.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the initiative should go to voters, ending, for now, an effort to introduce a modified version of the proposal favored by law enforcement advocates.

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CHS looked at the proposal earlier this year as the legislature passed a compromise version of the bill after backers provided the signatures necessary to put the proposal on the ballot. But the legislative maneuverings threw the legislation into the courts where the judiciary has ultimately ruled that the initiative must go to a vote and that any compromises worked out in Olympia would need to be put aside for the time being.

If passed, the new law would require police to have de-escalation, first aid, and mental health training. It also shifts to a good faith standard for the use of deadly force by police and requires independent investigation when force results in death or injury.

Other issues from the compromise proposal including requirements for officers to render first aid at the scene under certain circumstances will have to come later in the legislature.

Seattle’s Community Police Commission, meanwhile, called on SPD to update its use of force policy regardless of the outcome of November’s statewide vote. “The Seattle Police Department can take the lead right now to undo a rule that every other state in the country has found to be an unreasonable barrier to justice and accountability,” the commission said in a statement.

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