Proposed legislation calls for unpaid suspension after use of deadly force
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Proposed legislation calls for unpaid suspension after use of deadly force

Date: April 1, 2015
By: Michael Lindquist
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 602

JEFFERSON CITY - A proposed bill would mandate that a police officer be suspended without pay after using deadly force on an unarmed person more than twenty feet away.

Rep. Tommie Pierson, D-St. Louis City, is the sponsor of the bill. He said it is time to do something to make police officers think before they shoot.

"I think that too many African American teenagers and males, in particular, are getting shot down by police officers unarmed," Pierson said. "They don't seem to be violating any law."

Rep. Shawn Rhoads, R-West Plains, is the chairman of the House Public Safety committee. He said while he agrees that the bill is a good addition, it needs to be tweaked.

"I think it needs a little bit of work and we're going to do that to it," Rhoads said. "We're really needing to kind of help out our laws in Missouri as far as use of force."

Rhoads said the bill needs to reflect what the Supreme Court decided in the Tennessee v. Garner case in 1985.

The Supreme Court said when an officer is pursuing a suspect, the officer cannot use deadly force to prevent an escape unless they believe the suspect poses a significant threat to their own or others well-being.

Pierson said the bill would make officers think twice before they decide to draw their gun.

"Every time we can cause a police officer to think before he shoots, it saves somebody's life," Pierson said. "Police officers have to understand that they're not the judge, jurors and executioners. Their job is to arrest people, not kill them."

He said this bill is "absolutely" a result of Ferguson.

"But, Ferguson is not just Ferguson," Pierson said. "Ferguson is all over this country. That's why it spread like it did. Because it has an affect on so many people's lives across this country."

The bill would require the officer to be suspended until a full investigation is complete.

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