State House approves police deadly force measure

The bill now goes to the senate for approval.

The State House of Representatives approved a measure to overhaul Washington's controversial law on police use of deadly force by a 73 to 25 vote.

The measure now goes to the Senate where it needs a two-thirds vote for approval. The regular session of the legislature ends on Thursday.

Supporters say the measure would make it easier to prosecute police who commit wrongful shootings while still protecting those who make honest mistakes.

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However, the measure was initially proposed as an initiative to the legislature. According to the state Constitution, if the legislature doesn't pass such an initiative as-is, it must be sent to the voters on the November ballot.

In this case, lawmakers are trying to pass the initiative as-is, while immediately amending it with compromise language hammered out between supporters, police organizations and prosecutors.

If the Senate approves the compromise and the governor signs it, any opponents have 90 days to file a challenge. If not, the measure becomes law.

The initiative would remove the so-called malice clause in Washington state law, which would make it easier to prosecute officers in the most extreme cases. Proving malice in Washington state is known to be difficult.

In the eleventh hour of the legislative session, lawmakers convinced police unions and initiative backers to come to the table and come up with a compromise.

"We want to be part of the solution. We want to start a constructive conversation with the community and believe our engagement will help to reduce the polarization," said Steve Strachan, Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Executive Director.

"We appreciate the input law enforcement has had in the process of drafting this bill to strengthen and clarify its intent and effect," said Heather Villaneuva with De-Escalate Washington.