Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation prohibiting the use of grand juries in California in cases where police officers use lethal force, a response to distrust of the grand jury process following the deaths of unarmed black men in other states.
Proponents of Senate Bill 227 argued the grand jury process is too secretive and allowed prosecutors to avoid decision-making responsibility in politically charged cases.
“One doesn’t have to be a lawyer to understand why SB 227 makes sense,” the bill’s author, Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, said in a prepared statement after Brown announced signing the bill Tuesday. “The use of the criminal grand jury process, and the refusal to indict as occurred in Ferguson and other communities of color, has fostered an atmosphere of suspicion that threatens to compromise our justice system.”
Law enforcement groups representing district attorneys and police chiefs opposed the bill. The Democratic governor signed the measure without comment.
Brown also signed Senate Bill 411, clarifying that people can shoot video of police.
“Today, California makes it unequivocal – you have the right to record,” Sen. Ricardo Lara, the bill’s author, said in a prepared statement.