One Senate committee heard bipartisan testimony in favor of a bill that would restrict when police can use their weapons.
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One Senate committee heard bipartisan testimony in favor of a bill that would restrict when police can use their weapons.

Date: February 24, 2015
By: Katie Hynes
State Capitol Bureau
Links: SB 42, SB 119

JEFFERSON CITY -There is bipartisan effort in the Senate to change a Missouri law that allows a police officer to shoot at a potential felon who is fleeing a scene.

Committee Chair Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, and Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, urged the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to restrict when a police officer can use deadly force.

“This bill is not an attack on law enforcement,” Nasheed said. “This bill would not prevent officers from using deadly force when necessary.”

The chief spiritual leader from the St. Louis Afrikan Village and Cultural Center, Ray Hagins, testified in favor of the bill.

 “A law enforcement officer should not have the right,” said Hagins. “And it’s not right, for a law enforcement officer to use their weapon in an act of a deadly force when there is no eminent threat to the officer.”

According to Hagins this crucial change is needed. Hagins also said that an officer should never use deadly force against someone who is unarmed if they are less than 20 feet away, which was originally in Nasheed’s bill.

“If that’s not there,” Hagins said.  “If there’s nothing there to hold that officer back, then that makes the officer the judge, jury and executioner on the scene. And that simply is not right.”

A representative for the American Civil Liberties Union and Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankelson, for the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorney’s also testified in favor. There was no opposition for either bill. 

“There’s this phrase out now and I’m sure you’ve all heard of it, ‘black lives matter,’” Hagins said. “Well the truth of the matter is lives matter, period, not just black. Lives matter.”

These bills were proposed after the shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, which sparked national protests. However, his name was never mentioned.


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