Alameda County Democratic Party leaders approved a resolution to urge the state attorney general to investigate the April 18 fatal shooting of Steven Taylor by San Leandro Police.
The resolution was conceived by Pamela Price, a member of the committee and former candidate for Alameda County district attorney two years ago. Price believes the San Leandro shooting, which occurred inside a San Leandro Walmart, can be the first test of the state’s use of deadly force standard, signed into law last August by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Assembly Bill 392 removed some level of vagueness in California law for when a police officer can use lethal force from “objectionably reasonable” to a “necessary” response.
While many police accountability activists acknowledged AB392 was watered down as it winded through the Legislature, some legal experts believe the new law will allow juries to focus on an officer’s actions just prior to discharging their weapon. For example, if the officer appeared to exhaust of methods of de-escalating the incident before using lethal force.
In the case of Taylor, a San Leandro police officer engaged the suspect who was holding and twirling an aluminum bat near a shopping cart bay at the entrance of the Walmart store. Cellphone video shows the officer was face-to-face with Taylor, who then make a large leap away. The officer then tased Taylor, but it failed to subdue him. It’s unclear whether the electric node even hit Taylor or attached to his backpack. Seconds later, the officer fatally shot Taylor. A late-arriving second officer also tased Taylor.
The Anti-Police Terror Project, an activist group that has been a strong voice for greater oversight of the Oakland Police Department amid a spate of police misconduct incidents and shootings of African-American residents over the years, supported passage of AB392, and has also referenced the law in relation to Taylor’s death.
The same group staged a caravan through San Leandro on April 25 to bring attention to the shooting.
Meanwhile, San Leandro Police declined to give the names of the two officers involved in the shooting, KTVU reported. The refusal comes after the officers had received death threats, the city said. Each officer’s face, however, is clearly visible on multiple occasions during a video of the incident, including body-worn camera footage, provided by San Leandro Police.