A bill to change the state’s law on the use of deadly force by police failed in the final day of the legislative session, but lawmakers disagree about whose fault that is.
The bill would have limited the legal defense for police to using deadly force to when a subject is committing a felony that involves the threat or infliction of a serious physical injury. Current law allows the use of deadly force when an officer believes a suspect has committed or attempted to commit a felony, is escaping with a deadly weapon, or poses a threat to others.
The effort to change the law was spurred by the fatal shooting in August of Michael Brown, Junior, in Ferguson.
On the final day the House approved making an addition to the bill before approving it, meaning it would have to have been taken up by the Senate and passed to reach the governor. The Senate only passed one bill on the final day, as Democrats continued blocking debate in response to Republicans having forced a vote on “right to work,” Tuesday.
Senate Democrat Leader Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis) says the House killed that bill.
“The lethal force bill was killed in the House when they put the House amendment on it today,” Keaveny said after the Senate adjourned. “This is the bill that both sides wanted.”
House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) said that assessment is absolutely incorrect.
“We sent that bill to the Senate. It’s a bill that I know a number of Democrat senators are concerned about and like, and wanted to see passed,” said Richardson. “They were in session for several hours after we sent them that bill and had every opportunity to pick it up, and they took up legislation and passed it after we sent it.”
Governor Jay Nixon (D) said he would have liked for the lethal force legislation to get to his desk.