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Supporters turn in signatures to get I-940, use of force measure, on ballot

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Exuberant supporters of Initiative 940 have reached a milestone.  A monthslong, grassroots campaign ended as they turned in signatures to get the controversial measure on the ballot.

Just before that, they held a rally. Many of those in the crowd are relatives of the dead.

The cousin of Charleena Lyles repeated what has become their signature chant.

"Say her name!" shouted Katrina Johnson. "Charleena!" the crowd shouted back.

The pregnant mother of four was shot and killed last June by two Seattle police officers.  But on this day, the chant took on special meaning for these supporters of Initiative 940.

"De-Escalate Washington, I-940, we got 360,000 signatures so that our loved ones' death will not be in vain," Johnson told the crowd standing in the rain. "Charleena, we did this for you, baby."

The mother of Che' Taylor, also killed by Seattle police, was exhilarated, too.

"The victory is already won," Joyce Dorsey said. "To get all these people and all these organizations and all these different races, because it's not about race. 'Cause they killing us all."

Initiative 940 would provide de-escalation training for all law enforcement officers.  It would also mandate that they provide first aid for anyone they shoot. But the most controversial provision would eliminate the need to prove malice as a condition of prosecuting officers who misuse deadly force.

Seattle police Officer Mike Solan met KIRO 7 recently at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Olympia to denounce the initiative.

"It's not about training as these proponents claim it is," Solan insisted. "It is about putting police officers in jail."

As supporters turned in the signatures, they shouted with joy.

"We did it," said one. "I'm so excited we did it."

And many of these supporters see this as the start of something new.

"I'm just overwhelmed with emotion," said Tim Reynon, a Puyallup Tribal Council member, his eyes filled with tears. "And I can't help but think today is a new day. This is the start of change."

The Secretary of State has until the first week of February to certify the signatures delivered today.

Then the legislature will act.

Lawmakers could make the initiative law, send it to voters as it is or draft another initiative to give voters a second choice.

Related: Seattle police shooting kills armed 30-year-old woman; read both sides here

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