The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the Pomona Police Department, claiming that it has used public funds under the influence of a lobby group to adopt policies and training that undermine state law on the use of lethal force by the police.

The complaint lodged with the Los Angeles District Supreme Court on Friday named the Pomona police department, its chief Michael Ellis, and the city of Pomona as defendants. It was submitted on behalf of Gente Organizada, a Pomona social action group, and a member of a Pomona coalition called Police Oversight Starts Today.

Request for comments from the Pomona Police Department, the City of Pomona and the Peace Officers Research Assn. of California or PORAC ​​were not returned immediately.

The charges in the lawsuit relate to the implementation of a state law by the police department – Assembly Bill 392 – which changed the standard to justify the use of lethal violence from "reasonable" to "necessary". When the law came into force on January 1, it was described as one of the toughest standards in the country regarding the use of lethal violence.

The plaintiffs argue that the department's use of violence policy consistently refers to an "adequacy standard" and "does not recognize" that AB 392 created the "necessary" standard. As a result, they claim that the department applies an inaccurate legal standard when investigating the use of fatal violence.

So far, prosecutors have only been able to consider the point in time when lethal violence was used to determine whether an official was acting in compliance with the law. The new standard also allows prosecutors to review the actions of officials and suspects who have led to an encounter.

"… The Pomona Police Department instructs its officers that AB 392 has not changed the legal standard for the use of lethal force by police officers," the lawsuit said. "This instruction is incorrect: it misrepresents the legal standard of AB 392 and sets a different and lower standard for the use of deadly force by Pomona police officers that violates state law."

The plaintiffs allege that the Pomona police force trained their officers to use lethal violence based on materials created by PORAC, the largest state law enforcement agency. While the lawsuit acknowledged that PORAC ​​had declared "neutral" on the draft law a few months before Governor Gavin Newsom's signature on August 6, 2019, the lawsuit alleges that the group has "started to implement it." to hinder once it became law ”.

According to the lawsuit, the president of PORAC ​​sent an email to its members three days after the law was signed, claiming that the new standard was "in line with current case law" and would "not do the work of the police." significantly influence ". The Pomona Police Training Center then sent this email to all sworn officers in the department. Shortly afterwards, a training session was held on the new law for civil servants based on PORAC ​​materials, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit seeks several injunctions, including the cessation of Pomona Police Department resources to train officers who, under state law, do not set a "necessary" standard for the use of lethal violence.

The Times reporter Anita Chabria contributed to this report.


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