Gonzalez Bill to Create Use of Force Standards for Police Projectiles Approved by Senate Public Safety Committee

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – (Tuesday, July 6, 2021) – Police projectile weapons and chemical agents can cause serious harm to people if fired indiscriminately into a crowd or otherwise deployed improperly. Today, the Senate Public Safety Committee approved Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s Assembly Bill 48 to establish clear, minimum statewide standards on law enforcement officers’ use of these weapons and chemical agents during protests.

“There is simply no excuse for the types of serious injuries we’ve seen inflicted on peaceful protestors who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “AB 48 protects an individual’s right to safely protest without risking injuries from rubber bullets or chemical agents by regulating how and when law enforcement can use these weapons.”

Despite being considered as “non-lethal” or “less lethal” tools, California does not have uniform, minimum standards for the usage of these weapons. AB 48 would prohibit any law enforcement agency from using kinetic projectiles, chemical agents and tear gas to disperse any peaceful assembly, protest, or demonstration. It would also prohibit officers from aiming kinetic projectiles like rubber bullets, beanbags, and foam rounds at a person’s head, neck or other vital organs. 

Media outlets have reported several cases of these weapons being used by officers that have caused broken jaws, blindness, traumatic brain injury, and ruptured testicles.

La Mesa grandmother Leslie Furcron was injured after she was shot at by a police officer with a bean bag round while attending a police brutality protest last year. Furcron was taken to the hospital and treated for her injuries, but she says she will never forget the experience.

“I went to the protest that day because I felt like I had no choice but to join the voices calling for change,” Furcron said. “I will never forget the pain in my head. It felt like I was on fire. I was bleeding, lying on the ground with the round lodged into my forehead.” 

AB 48 would require officers to be trained on the safe use of kinetic projectiles and chemical agents for situations where any person’s life is threatened, or they are at risk of serious injury. In those situations, officers would be required to issue verbal warnings and utilize other de-escalation tactics first.  

AB 48 also requires law enforcement agencies to report any use of kinetic projectiles and chemical agents that resulted in an injury to the state Department of Justice and publish annual summaries on their websites.    

For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Mike Blount: Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov