June 12, 2020

Kentucky’s New “Breonna Taylor Law” Will Ban No-Knock Warrants

June 12, 2020
guns marijuana

Good news, but too late for Breonna Taylor, 26, who was asleep after a 16-hour shift as an EMT when cops broke into her apartment looking for drugs. They fatally shot her at least eight times before they realized they had the wrong address.

Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Ky., said that he would sign “Breonna’s Law” as soon as it hits his desk after the city council voted unanimously to ban “no-knock” warrants, the type used by the police who murdered Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020.

“I suspended use of these warrants indefinitely last month, and wholeheartedly agree with Council that the risk to residents and officers with this kind of search outweigh any benefit,” Mayor Fischer said in a statement on June 11.

In addition to barring the execution of warrants without knocking, the measure sets new guidelines for other types of search warrants and requires that police officers have their body cameras on when conducting a search, and for a certain amount of time afterwards.

When the three Louisville cops with a no-knock warrant stormed Breonna’s apartment, one of them got shot in the leg by her boyfriend who said he fired his gun because intruders had just broken down his front door down with a battering ram, which turned out to be true.

The cops, who had a search warrant for drugs, were in the wrong apartment and the person they were looking for had already been detained several hours before they blasted their way into Breonna’s place.

Militarized Policing and the War on Drugs

“For decades, the war on drugs has funded militarized policing through various grant programs including the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which was created by Congress in 1990 for the purpose of expanding drug enforcement,” wrote Maritza Perez of the Drug Policy Alliance in the online publication Common Dreams. 

Perez analyzes the June 8, 2020 congressional introduction of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020.

Though the bill includes provisions to help end racial profiling, ban chokeholds, create a national database for police misconduct and use-of-force, and establishes a use-of-force standard, Perez says it “fails to address certain important issues like police militarization and the use of quick-knock raids.”

Are No-Knock Raids on the Rise?

No-knock and quick-knock drug searches have surged from around 3,000 in 1981 to at least 60,000 annually in recent years, according to Peter Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University who studies these types of raids.

Judges tend to grant the police no-knock warrants when requested, pointed out Mother Jones, partly because it’s easy to argue that a suspect might be dangerous when you consider that 4 in 10 American adults live in a home with a gun.

And, as the number of home raids increased, so has the toll on Black families.

“The war on drugs has always been predominantly prosecuted against minority communities, so the bulk of no-knock raids are executed against those same people,” Prof. Kraska said.

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