• Press Release

Lethal Force Legislation Could Save Lives and Protect Communities

September 18, 2019

In response to the introduction of the Police Exercising Absolute Care for Everyone (PEACE) Act by Representatives Ro Khanna and Lacy Clay, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International USA and Families United 4 Justice released the following statement:

Kanya Bennett, Senior Legislative Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “When law enforcement uses deadly force, there’s a human toll that comes along with that decision. Very often that decision results in destroyed families and neighborhoods. The Police Exercising Absolute Care for Everyone (PEACE) Act respects the sanctity of life by requiring that police use lethal force only when absolutely necessary. The PEACE Act promises to reduce police caused fatalities in communities throughout the country and ensure accountability when they do happen.

Kristina Roth, the senior program officer for criminal justice programs at Amnesty International USA, said: “Until we reform laws governing the use of lethal force by police, tragedies will continue to occur. This legislation is a major step toward protecting individuals and families most impacted by unlawful killings and excessive use of force by police, including communities of color. Not only does it change the standard around use of lethal force to help prevent deadly confrontations, it also holds officers accountable for unnecessary force resulting from gross negligence. People should not have to fear those that are sworn to protect them.”

Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson, co-founder of Families United 4 Justice, which he created after his 22-year-old, nephew, Oscar Grant, was killed by a police officer in Oakland, said: “There is no horror comparable to deadly force used by the police that takes your loved one’s life. The pain is forever forged in your memory because it could have been prevented. The power of the police to use deadly force is the most significant responsibility that we can give any public official. The PEACE Act is common-sense legislation that has the potential to change 21st-century policing in America. It will bridge the gap between the community and policing in America.”

Katrina Johnson, who’s cousin, Charleena Lyles, a caring mother of four, was killed while pregnant with her fifth child, said: “Accountability, mental health, and continual de-escalation training is important to my family and I. Nobody that calls the police for help that is suffering from mental health issues should be condemned to their death for being in a crisis like Charleena did. We want law enforcement officers to see the humanity in the people they are tasked with protecting and serving. We need to begin to restore the broken relationship between police and community and the mechanism to do that is accountability.”


The PEACE Act would only permit lethal force by federal officers when necessary to prevent loss of life and serious bodily injury. Additionally, it would only permit less-than-lethal force when necessary.

This act also directs the Attorney General to create guidance on the use of lethal force and less-than-lethal force on vulnerable populations including pregnant women, young people, elderly people, people with disabilities, and others.

It also limits states and localities from receiving Byrne JAG funds for the years in which their use of force by police statutes are dissimilar to that outlined in the bill.



Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. 

Follow Amnesty International USA on Twitter. 

About ACLU

For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has worked in courts, legislatures, and communities to protect the constitutional rights of all people. With a nationwide network of offices and millions of members and supporters, we take up the toughest civil liberties fights. Beyond one person, party, or side — we the people dare to create a more perfect union. Learn more at aclu.org.

Follow The ACLU on Twitter.