Police officers’ legal authority to kill underwent a key change in California on January 1, 2020, when a new law stated that lethal force was justifiable only “when necessary in defense of human life.”

But even as officer use of deadly force has become a hugely prominent national issue, many police departments in California — prompted by police associations and special interest groups — have not only refused to accept the new law, but also used taxpayer dollars to spread the myth that “nothing has changed.”

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California and the national ACLU filed a taxpayer action lawsuit in Superior Court in Los Angeles against the Pomona Police Department whose officers shot and killed three people since the law went into effect. The lawsuit charges that the police department unlawfully used public funds and employee time in adopting policies and trainings — designed by police lobbying groups — that conflict with the new state law. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of members of a Pomona coalition, Police Oversight Starts Today.

They include plaintiff Gente Organizada, a community-based, nonprofit social-action organization. It became involved in efforts to hold police accountable because of the Pomona Police Department’s history of violence against young people.

The lawsuit is the first in the state concerning police defiance of the new law, the California Act to Save Lives (also known as AB 392).

Case Developments

November 21, 2022

Plaintiffs reach settlement with Pomona City and the Pomona PD. Read the settlement.

July 31, 2020

Plaintiffs filed the complaint in State Superior Court in Los Angeles County. Read the complaint.


Adrienna Wong, Mohammad Tajsar, Eva Bitran

Date filed

July 31, 2020


Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County