Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Breonna Taylor Settlement: What it means for No-knock Warrants


image from flickr.com U.S. Army Material Command John B. Snyder, Watervliet Arsenal, N.Y.   CC 2.0  12 January, 2012.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the City has reached a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit rising from the no-knock raid on Breonna Taylor's apartment. Breonna's boyfriend thought the raid was a home invasion.  An exchange of gunfire through the door resulted in Breonna being killed on 13 March of this year. 

(edit) the shots which killed Breonna were fired inside the apartment. Only one shot was fired by Breonna's boyfriend. Several shots were fired from outside the apartment to inside, but did not hit anyone)

The City will pay 12 million dollars and require reforms of police procedure. 

Promiscuous use of no-knock warrants is incompatible with a legally armed society and the Second Amendment.

Louisville has  mandated the use of body cameras in police raids, in response to Breonna's death. 

8.1.18 ENTRY PROCEDURES All members of the search team will wear body armor and will be equipped with a Wearable Video System (WVS). Pursuant to Louisville Metro Code of Ordinances (LMCO) 39.069, no later than five (5) minutes prior to all search warrant executions, members will activate their WVS in recording mode and will not deactivate their WVS any sooner than five (5) minutes following the completion of the execution of the warrant (i.e. once all occupants are secured and the scene has been declared safe).

More search warrant reforms were required of the Louisville police.  From the News Release from louisvilleky.gov:

Search Warrant Reforms

  • LMPD has amended its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 8.1 on search warrants to require a commanding officer to review and approve all search warrants, affidavits in support of search warrants, and risk matrixes before an officer seeks judicial approval for a search warrant. SOP 8.1 has been updated concerning the simultaneous execution of search warrants at multiple locations. The commanding officer of the unit initiating the warrants will act as the overall Incident Commander with a separate on-scene Commanding Officer at each warrant location who will serve as the Deputy Incident Commander for that location. SOP 8.1 has been updated to require the presence of EMS units and/or paramedics for forced entry search warrants.

The settlement includes reforms on involving the police in local communities and to insure greater accountability for forfeiture of currency, drug testing, and accountability for misconduct by police officers. 

Section 8.1 of Louisville police procedures has been revised twice in recent months. It requires copies of warrants be provided at the beginning of a warrant service, and inventories of items seized left at the end of the search. Damages which occurred to property during service are to be photographed and documented. These have been common practices for a long period of time, and may already have been in effect in Louisville. Section 8.1 contains a requirement for at least one uniformed officer and one marked car at warrant service.

The  12 million dollar payment in the Louisville settlement should make cities and police departments across the country pay attention to no-knock warrants and the potential for bad outcomes. 

The family of the Houston couple who were killed in a no knock raid last year, where police lied to obtain the warrant, and where several police face felony charges, have not reached a settlement yet. Both cases have received national attention. 

Mayors, city council members, and police chiefs are not personally accountable for the funds. Taxpayers will pick up the tab.

Senator Rand Paul has proposed a federal ban on no-knock raids. From congress.gov:

This Act may be cited as the “Justice for Breonna Taylor Act”.

SEC. 2. Prohibition on no-knock warrants.

(b) State and local law enforcement agencies.—Beginning in the first fiscal year beginning after the date of enactment of this Act, and each fiscal year thereafter, a State or local law enforcement agency that receive funds from the Department of Justice during the fiscal year may not execute a warrant that does not require the law enforcement officer serving the warrant to provide notice of his or her authority and purpose before forcibly entering a premises.

It is the bare skeleton of a law. It is not serious legislation. Some form of no-knock warrant has been in effect since the nation's founding. There needs, at minimum, to be definitions of what "provide notice" means in this context. There needs to be exceptions for the rare circumstances when a no-knock raid is reasonably justified. No-knock raids need to be rare, as they used to be, not completely banned.

For his championship of eliminating no-knock raids, Senator Paul was vilified and threatened by an angry mob as he and a few others walked from the White House to their hotel. From heartlanddailynews.com:

As Paul explained, “They were shouting threats to us, to kill us, to hurt us, but also threats saying shout, shouting ‘say her name,’ Breonna Taylor, and it’s like you couldn’t reason with this mob, but I’m actually the author of the Breonna Taylor law to end no-knock raids, so the irony is lost on these idiots that they’re trying to kill the person who’s actually trying to get rid of no-knock raids.”

Paul added, “I truly believe this with every fiber of my being, had they gotten at us they would have gotten us to the ground, we might not have been killed, might just have been injured by being kicked in the head, or kicked in the stomach until we were senseless.”

The riots and destruction of property across the nation are the exact opposite of a return to the rule of law which Ron Paul champions.

The widespread use of digital recording devices will accelerate the risk of no-knock raids for cities and police administrators. Police agencies have lost much of the ability to cover up and paper over problems and corruption.

The reforms forced on Louisville and Houston police departments set examples for pro-active departments. Departments which do not reform will face greater scrutiny if and when no-knock warrants are involved in future tragedies. No-knock warrants may start to go out of style, as they came into style. 

The current Antifa/BLM mob tactics to de-legitimize and defund the police have the opposite effect. The more police are de-legitimized, the less likely they are to adopt no-knock reforms.

Senator Rand Paul was credibly threatened, even though he has been the foremost champion of no-knock raid reform legislation in Congress. 

If the mob had a clue, they would have praised Paul for his strong support of the very law they want passed. However, the throng of imbeciles who tried to do harm to Paul have little knowledge about such things. They are, in general, all about sowing chaos and division—not solutions and unity.

No-knock warrants are likely to be reduced and restricted. They will not be completely outlawed. Reforms which mandate strict requirements for the issuance of no knock warrants are the most likely outcome, on a city by city basis.

©2020 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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ScienceABC123 said...

The security of our homes is guaranteed under the 4th Amendment. The purpose of "no knock" raids is to suddenly remove the security of the place being raided. In the case of one's home it is only natural to fight back when the security of your home has been suddenly and violently intruded upon. That is a natural right and cannot be denied by law.

"No knock" raids are as un-Constitutional as stopping people in public and demanding their "papers."

Jay Dee said...

Our training officer advised against no-knock raids back in the 70s. In fact we arrested a local dope dealer by the simple expedient of knocking on his front door. We had expected a knock down drag out fight but nothing.