Assemblymember Chris Holden’s police reform legislation, Assembly Bill 26, cleared its final hurdle in the Legislature and is headed for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.
AB 26 establishes clear guidelines for police responsibility and accountability when witnessing excessive force being used by another member of law enforcement.
“Today’s vote is a big step forward for police responsibility and accountability,” said Holden, a Democrat who represents Pasadena. Holden previously served as a Pasadena City Council member and as mayor.
“Instituting these core values are paramount to building public trust that has eroded between law enforcement and communities across California,” Holden said.
Newsom has until Oct. 10 to sign the bill into law.
Floyd was murdered by convicted former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020. Chauvin placed his knee on the neck of the handcuffed Floyd for more than nine minutes during the encounter.
Onlookers pleaded with Chauvin to stop, but the disgraced officer ignored those people and continued pressing his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck, who told Chauvin and other officers “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd’s murder set off a series of protests in cities across the country, including Pasadena. The incident moved the Pasadena City Council to create a police oversight commission.
Chauvin was convicted of murdering Floyd and on June 25 was sentenced to serve 22.5 years in prison.
California law requires police officers to intercede when observing another officer using force that is beyond that which is necessary, but there are no universal measures used to determine that an officer has in fact interceded.
In the case of Floyd, a lawyer for one of the accused junior officers argued that there was intervention because the junior officer asked the supervising officer if they should turn Floyd on his side.
If AB 26 becomes law, police officers will be required to intercede when witnessing excessive force being used and report the incident immediately to a dispatcher or the watch commander.
An officer’s due process rights will be protected as the employing agency would review any evidence and determine if the offending officer met the standard for intervention. Retaliation against officers that report violations of law or regulation of another officer to a supervisor would be prohibited.
Last year, Newsom’s policing advisers released their recommendations, which included legislation to “Require officers to intervene to prevent or stop other officers from engaging in excessive force, false arrest, or other inappropriate conduct.”
“We were outraged when we watched the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer from a knee to the neck,” Holden said. “Equally disturbing was the lack of intervention from the police officers who witnessed a clear use of excessive force. This lack of action is exactly what my bill addresses, and I look forward to seeing Gov. Newsom sign it.”