A bill proposed by three Republican representatives would make a minor change in New Hampshire police use of force law. House Bill 66 would amend RSA 627:5, II by removing one of the legal justifications for a law enforcement officer to kill an innocent person.
Current New Hampshire statute allows law enforcement officers to use deadly force to defend themselves from imminent threats, to defend other people from imminent threats, to aid in detaining a violent person who is dangerous and fleeing, or simply to make an arrest.
This bill would eliminate the last justification, meaning that if a person commits a nonviolent crime and is being placed under arrest, police cannot kill him.
The bill also states that “Nothing in this paragraph constitutes justification for conduct by a law enforcement officer amounting to an offense against innocent persons whom the officer is not seeking to retain in custody.”
The bill does not mention specific punishments for law enforcement officers who violate this law, so we can assume that such a killing would be treated like a typical homicide.
If the three conservative-libertarian Republican sponsors of the bill can get their caucus to support the bill, and if Democrats support police accountability, this bill should pass easily.
Still, you must email and call your representatives if you want to make sure that they will support this bill.
Email the Criminal Justice Committee at HouseCriminalJusticeandPublicSafety@leg.state.nh.us