District Attorney Steve Cooley Writes New Body-Armor Legislation

After a state appellate court overturned California's no-body-armor-for-ex-violent-felons rule, citing what it stated was vague and confusing language, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley has come up with a law of his own and he's urging the state legislature to pass it.

Cooley's office states that he has come up with "a straightforward, common-sense definition of 'body armor:'" "a bulletproof vest, meaning any bulletproof material intended to provide ballistic and trauma protection for the wearer."

"This is too important an issue to let it wind through the appellate process when there is a straightforward legislative solution readily available," Cooley said.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown said on Tuesday that he would petition the state Supreme Court to overturn the 2nd District court's ruling. Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, San Francisco police Chief George Gascon and Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing rank-and-file Los Angeles police, urged him to do so.

The case involves a challenge of the Los Angeles Police Department's 2007 arrest of ex-con Ethan Saleem, a convicted murderer who was free on parole when officers stopped him and noticed he had on body armor. He served 10 years for wearing the bullet-proof vest, but the appellate court ruled this month the law's language was too vague for the suspect to have understood the prohibition.

The law was passed a year after the "North Hollywood shootout" in 1997 in which two bank robbers wearing body armor shot at cops with assault rifles and saw 9 mm bullets bounce off them like flies at a picnic.

It was not immediately clear who, if anyone, would carry Cooley's proposed law in the legislature.

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