Re: “Is state law too protective of police in shootings? Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin thinks so” (TNT, 11/21)
Washington State has the most regressive police use of deadly force laws in the country according to an Amnesty International report. Since 1986 the law mandates that officers should not be prosecuted as long as they act “in good faith” and “without malice,” or what the law calls “evil intent” (RCW 9A.16.040).
However, malice is a state of mind, and is nearly impossible to prove. Between the years 2005 and 2014, there were 213 individuals killed by police in Washington, only one was charged and he was acquitted.
Between 2005 and 2009 an average of 16 people were killed by police, between 2010 and 2014, it increased to 27. Only 84% of those killed by police had a weapon.
If Initiative 873 passes, Washington will still have one of the strongest self-defense laws in the nations, one where police can mistakenly use deadly force and not be charged as long as their actions were reasonable. The benefits of Initiative I-873 are twofold: First, it would be a step toward police accountability. Second, it would begin to repair the relationships police have with the most highly affected communities.
This initiative will hold bad officers accountable and help good police officers become better.