Council in Kentucky’s second-largest city votes to ban ‘no-knock’ warrants

Published 10:10 am Friday, June 25, 2021

The council in Kentucky’s second-largest city has voted to ban the use of “no-knock” warrants, joining Breonna Taylor’s hometown in taking action to halt the controversial warrants.

The Lexington council voted 10-5 to ban no-knock warrants after more than three hours of debate Thursday night, news outlets reported.

Last year, Louisville’s Metro Council voted to ban the warrants, which permit officers to enter a home or residence without knocking. Taylor — a Louisville emergency medical technician studying to become a nurse — was fatally shot by police as officers burst into her home while conducting a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found at her home.

In Lexington, the new ordinance also sets out requirements for how knock-and-announce warrants are executed.

The Rev. Clark Williams, one of several Black faith leaders who pushed for more than a year for Lexington to ban no-knock warrants, said after the vote: “I’m relieved that first of all, we got to vote on what we’ve been talking about all year. It’s very sobering it was this hard to get a vote. We’re happy with the outcomes, but it shows us we have a lot more work to do.”

The final vote on the ban came after a substitute amendment — which would have added more restrictions on how no-knock warrants can be used — was narrowly defeated.
The 10 votes in favor of the ban was significant, because it takes nine votes to override a mayoral veto, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. Mayor Linda Gorton has said she supports a current moratorium, which requires her and multiple additional sign-offs before a no-knock warrant can be signed. Gorton put the moratorium in place last year after Taylor’s death.

Kentucky lawmakers this year passed a partial ban on no-knock warrants. The measure, signed by Gov. Andy Beshear, only permits no-knock warrants if there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the crime being investigated “would qualify a person, if convicted, as a violent offender.”