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Committee hears bill on police using deadly force

Just hours after the Department of Justice announced it will not charge Officer Darren Wilson Wednesday, one Missouri senator took action trying to change the system.

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, presented a bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee that details when law enforcement officers can use deadly force.

“We are in the process of balancing out the needs of police officers at the same time protecting the civil rights, the consitutional rights of private citizens,” Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said.

Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said the current state laws do not comply with two U.S. Supreme Court rulings on when deadly force may be used.

In the case Tennessee v. Garner, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled law enforcement officers can use deadly force if the officer if the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said current Missouri statutes do not mention probable cause.

And in Graham v. Connor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled an officer must have “objective reasonable belief” that it is necessary to make an arrest or stop. Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said currently, state law says only a “reasonable belief” is needed.

“What happened on August 9th of last year, did not only affect Ferguson or the St. Louis region, it impacted the entire state,” Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said. “And in some cases our state became an embarrassment, and we don’t want to get to that point. We’re one of the only states in the nation that are out of line with the Supreme Court case Tennessee vs. Garner.”

In the hearing Wednesday, a member of the ACLU of Missouri testified in support of the bill. There were no opposing testimonies.

If the bill passes, it will take effect Aug. 28.

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