Senate approves new use-of-force rules for Missouri police - KMOV.com

Senate approves new use-of-force rules for Missouri police

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(Credit: KMOV) (Credit: KMOV)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -  A change designed to bring Missouri's law on when police can use deadly force into line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling won initial approval Wednesday in the state Senate.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1985 that police may not shoot at a fleeing person unless the officer reasonably believes the individual poses a significant danger to the officer or others in the community. Missouri's law does not stipulate that a fleeing suspect must be dangerous.

Laws governing when officers can use deadly force have come under heightened scrutiny since the 2014 police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. The Missouri Senate passed a similar overhaul last year, but the Legislature never passed a final version.

The bill also would allow anyone who believes his constitutional rights have been violated to bring a lawsuit in state court. Sen. Bob Dixon, the Springfield Republican who sponsored the bill, said that provision would safeguard rights, such as the right to bear arms, that have stronger protections in the Missouri Constitution than the U.S. Constitution.

"Are those rights real if they're only on paper?" Dixon asked.

People can already file those lawsuits in federal court, and involving state courts could invite more frivolous lawsuits against state and local governments, said Sen. Bob Onder, a Republican from Lake St. Louis. He added that despite his concerns with that part of the bill, it was important to change Missouri's use-of-force statutes.

The bill needs another vote before going to the House.

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