California bill proposes restitution for victims of police violence and their families

The California State Capital building stands in Sacramento, California on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The California State Capital building stands in Sacramento, California on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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 California could become one of the first states to extend compensation to victims of police violence and their families.

If Assembly Bill 767 is passed, the state’s victim compensation board would explicitly list excessive use of force by police among crimes eligible for compensation, said bill co-author Assemblymember Tim Grayson.

In California, victims of violent crimes such as sexual assault, human trafficking or robbery are eligible for restitution and support like mental health resources.

The revised bill, which was first introduced in 2019 but has been amended since the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, would also see the California Victim Compensation Board rely on sources other than police reports to confirm a crime took place, Grayson said.

“AB 767 is California’s opportunity to demonstrate that we value the lives and experiences of all victims, and particularly Black and brown victims of police violence,” the assemblymember said in a news conference with state lawmakers, nonprofit leaders and family members of victims killed by police.

In June, San Francisco began to offer compensation to victims and witnesses of police violence. The San Francisco District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, said if the state bill is passed, victims in every corner of California could receive the same compensation as victims of other crimes.

“Victims and their families should not be forced to turn to GoFundMe accounts to cover funeral, burial and medical expenses,” Boudin said.

Ashley and Michelle Monterrosa, sisters whose brother, Sean, was killed by police in June, said they could use the resources granted to other victims of crime. They’re barely getting by with unemployment, opting to work to raise awareness of their brother’s death while their parents work full-time.

“No matter what the police report says, there were five victims when my brother was murdered,” Michelle Monterrosa said. Vallejo police shot her brother during a looting investigation and mistook a hammer in his pocket for a gun.

According to the nonprofit Californians for Safety and Justice, which has supported the bill, Black and Latino Californians are more likely to experience violent crimes. Expanding the definition of crime to include police violence could allow families like the Monterrosas access to compensation and mental health care they seek.

The authors of the bill write that the act is urgent and should be passed immediately while Californians participate in protests against police brutality and racism.

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