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I-940 passes, regarding police use of deadly force

Initiative 940 makes it easier to prosecute police officers for negligent deadly shootings as well as requiring de-escalation and mental health intervention training for officers.
A Seattle police guards the downtown Seattle crime scene on April 20, 2017. (Photo: Taylor Mirfendereski | KING 5)

Washington voters approved Initiative 940, a measure overhauling Washington state’s controversial law on police shootings to lower the bar for prosecuting police who use deadly force.

About 59.6 percent of voters approved the measure as of Thursday evening.

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Initiative 940 requires police training to de-escalate volatile situations and avoid the use of deadly force. It also requires police provide mental health intervention and first aid on the spot. Additionally, it removes the malice clause under state law, which would make it easier to prosecute police officers in situations where deadly force is used.

Mike Solan with the Coalition for Safer Washington called the initial results, “definitely disappointing.”

Solan said he’s looking forward to lawmakers fixing the “horrific initiative.”

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The initiative also changes the law to consider what a "reasonable officer" might have done under the circumstances and would also take into account an officer's intentions to determine if she or he acted in good faith. Currently officers can’t be charged if they acted in good faith.

RELATED: Debating I-940, De-escalate Washington

Opponents say the measure would allow police officers who are doing their jobs to be prosecuted more easily. They also claim current police training already covers de-escalation and mental health intervention.

Supporters counter the initiative will save lives. They also argued while ongoing de-escalation and mental health intervention training is offered, this measure would make it mandatory.

I-940 was originally proposed in the state Legislature. However, lawmakers tried to pass it as-is earlier this year while immediately amending it. The state constitution says if the Legislature doesn’t pass legislation as-is, it must go to the voters.

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