10.120.010  <<  10.120.020 >>   10.120.030

Permissible uses of force.

(1)(a) Except as otherwise provided under this section, a peace officer may use physical force against a person when necessary to: Protect against criminal conduct where there is probable cause to make an arrest; effect an arrest; prevent an escape as defined under chapter 9A.76 RCW; or protect against an imminent threat of bodily injury to the peace officer, another person, or the person against whom force is being used.
(b) A peace officer may use deadly force against another person only when necessary to protect against an imminent threat of serious physical injury or death to the officer or another person. For purposes of this subsection (1)(b):
(i) "Imminent threat of serious physical injury or death" means that, based on the totality of the circumstances, it is objectively reasonable to believe that a person has the present and apparent ability, opportunity, and intent to immediately cause death or serious bodily injury to the peace officer or another person.
(ii) "Necessary" means that, under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonably effective alternative to the use of deadly force does not exist, and that the amount of force used was a reasonable and proportional response to the threat posed to the officer and others.
(iii) "Totality of the circumstances" means all facts known to the peace officer leading up to and at the time of the use of force, and includes the actions of the person against whom the peace officer uses such force, and the actions of the peace officer.
(2) A peace officer shall use reasonable care when determining whether to use physical force and when using any physical force against another person. To that end, a peace officer shall:
(a) When possible, exhaust available and appropriate de-escalation tactics prior to using any physical force, such as: Creating physical distance by employing tactical repositioning and repositioning as often as necessary to maintain the benefit of time, distance, and cover; when there are multiple officers, designating one officer to communicate in order to avoid competing commands; calling for additional resources such as a crisis intervention team or mental health professional when possible; calling for back-up officers when encountering resistance; taking as much time as necessary, without using physical force or weapons; and leaving the area if there is no threat of imminent harm and no crime has been committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed;
(b) When using physical force, use the least amount of physical force necessary to overcome resistance under the circumstances. This includes a consideration of the characteristics and conditions of a person for the purposes of determining whether to use force against that person and, if force is necessary, determining the appropriate and least amount of force possible to effect a lawful purpose. Such characteristics and conditions may include, for example, whether the person: Is visibly pregnant, or states that they are pregnant; is known to be a minor, objectively appears to be a minor, or states that they are a minor; is known to be a vulnerable adult, or objectively appears to be a vulnerable adult as defined in RCW 74.34.020; displays signs of mental, behavioral, or physical impairments or disabilities; is experiencing perceptual or cognitive impairments typically related to the use of alcohol, narcotics, hallucinogens, or other drugs; is suicidal; has limited English proficiency; or is in the presence of children;
(c) Terminate the use of physical force as soon as the necessity for such force ends;
(d) When possible, use available and appropriate less lethal alternatives before using deadly force; and
(e) Make less lethal alternatives issued to the officer reasonably available for their use.
(3) A peace officer may not use any force tactics prohibited by applicable departmental policy, this chapter, or otherwise by law, except to protect his or her life or the life of another person from an imminent threat.
(4) Nothing in this section prevents a law enforcement agency or political subdivision of this state from adopting policies or standards with additional requirements for de-escalation and greater restrictions on the use of physical and deadly force than provided in this section.


Intent2021 c 324: See note following RCW 10.120.010.
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