Politics & Government

Is state law too protective of police in shootings? Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin thinks so

Seattle Seahawks NFL football wide receiver Doug Baldwin talks to reporters Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, after he testified at a joint legislative task force on the use of deadly force in community policing at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Baldwin, whose father was a police officer, has been outspoken on the issues of police training, racial profiling, and the use of force by law enforcement officers.
Seattle Seahawks NFL football wide receiver Doug Baldwin talks to reporters Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, after he testified at a joint legislative task force on the use of deadly force in community policing at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Baldwin, whose father was a police officer, has been outspoken on the issues of police training, racial profiling, and the use of force by law enforcement officers. AP

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin on Monday urged the state to reform a law that some say shields police officers who improperly use deadly force.

Baldwin traveled to Olympia and testified at a task force studying Washington’s unique 1986 statute that says police can’t be charged with a crime for using deadly force unless it can be proved they acted with “malice” and without “good faith.”

No other state uses the “malice” requirement, which many in the legal community say protects law enforcement from prosecution after negligent or reckless shootings.

Baldwin, the son of a police officer, said the malice standard should be removed.

He told media the malice standard is “a safeguard for reckless behavior” by law enforcement.

Most on the task force agree “malice” should be removed from state law, although some police groups object to any change. The “good faith” standard is under debate, too.

The task force will adopt recommendations to the Legislature Monday.

Baldwin said he would continue to follow the issue in the upcoming months and expressed support for Initiative 873 that would rid the statute of the malice and good faith clauses.

Monday’s testimony continues Baldwin’s social activism surrounding police killings of black men. He has spoken out against them this year, and demanded state attorneys general review their policing policies and training to reduce racial bias in law enforcement.

Walker Orenstein: 360-786-1826, @walkerorenstein

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