GOP leader files no-knock warrant bill nearly year after botched raid killed Breonna Taylor

Published 5:12 am Wednesday, February 24, 2021

One of Kentucky’s top GOP lawmakers has filed legislation to ban some no-knock warrants nearly a year after the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was shot in her home multiple times by police during a botched drug raid in Louisville.

Under Senate President Robert Stivers’ bill, no-knock warrants would only be issued if there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the “crime alleged is a crime that would qualify a person, if convicted, as a violent offender.” That stops short of a measure sponsored by a Louisville Democrat that would ban all no-knock warrants, but that bill hasn’t gained a hearing in the legislature.

Taylor’s March 2020 death launched a series of protests over the summer and into the fall, with many demonstrators calling on state and national officials to ban no-knock warrants.

A grand jury indicted one officer on wanton endangerment charges in September for shooting into a neighbor’s apartment. No officers were charged in connection with her death. Police had a no-knock warrant but said they knocked and announced their presence before entering Taylor’s apartment, a claim some witnesses have disputed. No drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment.

Nevertheless, Louisville’s Metro Council banned no-knock warrants in June 2020. But Stivers said a full ban statewide wasn’t necessary.

“If you look at what the no-knock warrant does, it is related to search warrants for terroristic activity or weapons of mass destruction, evidence related to violent offenses,” he said. “So you’re not going to have a situation that occurred here.”

State Rep. Attica Scott, a Louisville Democrat who took part in downtown protests last year, had prefiled legislation that would ban all no-knock warrants in August 2020. Titled “Breonna’s Law” it also outlines penalties for officers who misuse body cameras and mandates drug and alcohol testing of officers involved in “deadly incidents.”