California Moves to Deter Inadvertent Shootings by Police

A woman leaves a sign at a make-shift memorial for Oscar Grant after the sentencing of former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

California is moving to require police officers to holster their handguns and stun guns on separate sides of their equipment belts to prevent accidental shootings after two people were killed in Oakland and Minnesota.

A bill passed the state Assembly on a 68-0 vote Monday and now heads to the Senate.

The separation of lethal and less-lethal weapons will make it less likely that officers will confuse the two or inadvertently draw the wrong one, said Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey.

Officers involved in the high-profile slayings of Oscar Grant in Oakland and more recently Daunte Wright in Minnesota said they thought they were using their Tasers but instead fired their handguns.

Both weapons have pistol grips and are fired with a trigger finger, though they otherwise are physically different.

““This has led to unnecessary catastrophies,” said Lackey, a former California Highway Patrol officer himself. “We aim to prevent future calamities.”

Assemblyman Jim Cooper, a fellow Democrat and former sheriff’s deputy, objected that the bill may go too far for what he said remains a rare error.

“Someone messed up and did a dumb mistake,” Cooper said. “Everyone doesn’t do that.”

Copyright Associated Press
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