U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- On March 13, 2020, at about 1 a.m., in Louisville, Kentucky, five police officers, at least three who were in plain clothes, without body cameras, executed a no-knock raid, with a warrant naming Breonna Taylor.
The warrant had the right address and person. The officers were not wearing body cameras, because they were narcotics officers, and were exempt by policy.
No body-camera footage is available because officers in the Criminal Interdiction Division who conducted the search warrant do not wear cameras, police chief Steve Conrad previously said.
The police started breaking down the door. They claim they announced themselves. Breonna's boyfriend Kenneth Walker had a concealed carry permit and was armed. Walker says he heard the banging on the door. It is not the same thing as hearing police announce themselves. Neighbors say they did not hear the police announce themselves. Kenneth Walker fired at the intruders breaking down the door at 1 a.m. He wounded one officer.
The three narcotics officers, in plain clothes, fired back, about 22 rounds, missing Kenneth Walker, but hitting Breonna eight times, killing her. The two other officers who were there did not fire. Kenneth Walker immediately called 911, believing a home invasion was occurring.
How were Breonna and Kenneth supposed to know it was police breaking down their door, and not a gang of criminals? Neither of them had criminal records. Many criminals claim to be police. Mere verbal claims of being police should not be sufficient identification. A Louisville councilwoman, asked: How would a person know to comply? From wdrb.com:
Councilwoman Green, who described the case as a “damn shame,” asked how someone would know to comply if police burst in during the middle of the night.
The warrant claimed surveillance of the address showed a former boyfriend of Breonna, had visited the apartment several times, and retrieved packages. The warrant claimed this was sufficient probable cause to search the house for drugs, guns, money, and any sort of records that could be associated with drug trafficking. Breonna had no criminal record. She was an emergency responder herself and had a good record at her job.
Jamarcus Glover, Breonna's former boyfriend, and a suspected drug dealer was arrested hours and miles away, before the raid on Breonna's apartment.
This raid seems an abuse of the no-knock warrant concept. Using the information in the warrant, anyone could be subject to police breaking down the door in the middle of the night, just from knowing someone with a criminal record. The three officers who fired were placed on administrative reassignment
The three Louisville Metro Police officers who fired their guns that night — Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — have been placed on administrative reassignment while the department's Professional Integrity Unit investigates what happened.
At least two other police officers, a lieutenant and an officer, were on the scene as a part of executing the warrant that night. However, LMPD officials named only the three who used their guns.
The wide use of no-knock warrants is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Anyone breaking into an American home in the middle of the night can reasonably expect to be met with gunfire. It should take extreme circumstances to justify a no-knock warrant. This raid was not justified by extreme circumstances. The warrant reads like boilerplate, looking for drugs, money, guns, and records. Except for the drugs, all the rest are things in more than half of American homes. I am not sure about the drugs.
Warrants are meant to protect the police as well as the suspects. If a warrant is legitimately presented, the residents of the house/apartment will know the police have a legitimate reason for their search. in our technological age, the subjects should be able to confirm the warrant by telephone.
The use of the excuse of “destruction of evidence” for no-knock raids should be severely curtailed. The amount of drugs that can be flushed down a toilet in five minutes does not justify the extreme risks involved in no-knock raids.
In January, the criminal abuse of no-knock warrants resulted in the death of an innocent couple in Houston. Breonna's death confirms the deadly danger of no-knock raids.
The officers have a duty to protect the public. How was the firing of 22 rounds, none of which hit Kenneth, justified? Breonna was killed. She was not firing. Some bullets ended up in other apartments.
The Houston warrant was based on false testimony. The Louisville warrant is being investigated. The warrant claims a postal inspector verified the delivery of suspicious packages. No one has found a postal inspector who is willing to state they made any such verification. From wdrb.com:
A day before the raid, a detective asked a judge to approve the warrant in part because he claimed a postal inspector verified that Glover was using Taylor's home to receive parcels, the affidavit says.
It is “possible” that Louisville police asked a mail inspector from another jurisdiction of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for help, Gooden said, but he said his office almost surely would have been notified of an outside agent's involvement.
On 21 May, 2020, the FBI announced it was launching an investigation.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The FBI is launching its own investigation into the fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor following a rising chorus of calls for an independent inquiry.
“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner,” the FBI Louisville Field Office said in a statement. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to comment further at this time.
No illegal drugs were found at Breonna's apartment. Kenneth's pistol was completely legal.
On 26 May, 2020, the charges against Kenneth Walker were dismissed, without prejudice, which means the charges could be filed again, with new evidence.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Friday, Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine asked a judge to dismiss the case against Kenneth Walker. Walker, boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, was charged with attempted murder of a police officer after he started shooting at officers executing a no-knock search warrant at Taylor's apartment.
WHAS11 has learned the charges have been dismissed. According to a court document [Commonwealth of Kentucky vs Kenneth Walker III] dated May 26, 2020, a judge dismissed the indictment without prejudice.
Some police were outraged. Act like a criminal gang, and Americans will treat you as a criminal gang. From wdrb.com:
“Not only is he a threat to the men and women of law enforcement, but he also poses a significant danger to the community we protect!” River City FOP president Ryan Nichols wrote in a Facebook Post Friday. “Home incarceration was not designed for the most violent offenders!” “I call on the public to condemn the actions of Judge Olu Stevens.”
When you are serving a warrant, appear at a reasonable time, knock on the door, wear uniforms, be ready to present a warrant. If no one answers after three or four minutes, then you may break down the door.
It often takes three or four minutes to answer the door. People can be changing a baby, in the bathroom, taking items from an oven, making love. You have to allow a reasonable time to answer the door. Don't expect people in the middle of the night to awaken, figure out what is going on, and answer the door, in the 20 seconds it takes to knock it down. Don't assume yelling “Police” is a reasonable way to assure people that you are legitimate police. It isn't.
The tragic death of Breonna Taylor could have been prevented if no-knock raids were restricted to the tiny number of times they are needed.
It appears the Louisville Police are instituting reforms, such as requiring the Chief of Police to sign off on every no-knock warrant. The policy exempting narcotics officers from wearing body cameras on raids has been changed.
Those reforms are a good start.
Use of bodycam footage of use of force by officers would be required by law, to be released to the public, by a bill in the Kentucky legislature. From louisvillefuture.com:
Kentucky House Bill 373 would make it so that cities do not have to release all body camera footage from first responders to the public. But footage of certain types of incidents, including use of force by police, is required to be made available to the public.
The Lousiville City Council is considering eliminating no-knock warrants. From wdrb.com:
At least one council member, Barbara Sexton Smith, called Wednesday for police to prohibit the no-knock warrants and is drafting an ordinance to do just that. The chair of the public safety committee, Jessica Green, is also collaborating on that effort.
“Several of us do have an appetite to draft an ordinance to either do away with no-knock warrants in their entirety or to drastically restrict them,” Green told WDRB News.
No knock raids put everyone at risk. Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas in Houston were white. Breonna was black. The Constitution and the law should be colorblind.
Following the limits on government power placed in the Constitution, is the way to allow all to exist in freedom under the law. It is called “ordered liberty”. We need to return to it.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.