Prosecutors from all of Washington State’s 39 counties will meet this week to consider possible changes to that state’s law regarding lethal force by police, which enacts a virtually impregnable wall of “blue privilege” around officers who kill while on duty.
Enacted in 1986 with strong support from police unions, RCW 9A.16.040, which addresses “Justifiable homicide or use of deadly force” by a police officer, assumes that officers who kill, act in good faith unless “evil intent” can be proven.
Jamitha Burley of Amnesty International describes the Washington statute as “the most egregious” law of its kind in the United States. Attorney Jeff Robinson, who directs the Washington ACLU’s Center for Justice, believes that the statute is “virtually a license to kill.” King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg observes that officers who use lethal force in Washington are protected by an “almost perfect defense” – not merely the “qualified immunity” routinely invoked by police everywhere, but something closer to absolute impunity.
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