Passionate testimony given on police deadly force law

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — Lakewood officers were justified in killing Daniel Covarrubias because he appeared to be threatening them with a gun that turned out to be a black cellphone, the Pierce County prosecutor said.

As the House Public Safety committee listened. His mother Marilyn Covarrubias asked for better training for police.

"I feel that with proper training may give them the tools to interact with human beings in a more compassionate manner," she said, fighting through tears.

All sides supported more training for police.

But they divided over removing the requirement that prosecutors prove malice and a lack of good faith in order to convict officers of crime for misusing deadly force.

That nearly impossible standard is the reason why there were no criminal charges in the police killing of John T. Williams, even though an investigation found the shooting was not justified.

Chester Earl's cousin Jacqueline was killed by Tacoma police in a shooting that was ruled justified.

“No one is above the law and with malice and in good faith as part of the law. It sure feels like that very small percentage of officers that are choosing to take individual lives are above the law, because prosecutors have no way of charging them,” he said.

But law enforcement officers say they need the legal protection that the malice and good faith standard provides.

“Being compelled to use deadly force is a tragedy for everyone involved. However law enforcement is required to respond to situations which are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving,” said Michael Sargent, representing the Fraternal Order of Police.