When Can Police Use No-Knock Warrants?


As soon as once more, Minneapolis streets are stuffed with protesters over the killing of a Black man by police.

Lower than two years in the past, police practices there got here underneath heavy assault after an officer killed George Floyd by pinning him to the asphalt along with his knee. This time, the difficulty is the division’s in depth use of “no-knock” warrants of the kind that resulted within the Feb. 2 capturing demise of Amir Locke, an harmless 22-year-old Black man.

Police obtained the warrant to apprehend Locke’s 17-year-old cousin, Mekhi Pace, who’s accused of killing 38-year-old Otis Elder in January. Investigators tracked Pace and different suspects to a Minneapolis condo and secured the no-knock warrant to enter it.

Locke was alone and sleeping underneath a blanket in the lounge of the condo, which was the house of a relative’s girlfriend, when a police SWAT staff gained entry with a key. After stepping by the doorway, the police loudly introduced themselves and Locke stirred. Police noticed that he had a gun, opened fireplace, and killed him.

Not solely was Locke not the particular person police sought. He was a authorized gun proprietor.

What Are No-Knock Warrants?

As their identify implies, no-knock warrants give police the authority to forcibly enter a constructing or room with out knocking and asserting their presence. Steadily, they use a battering ram.

Ordinarily, police should knock and announce their presence after they execute search warrants. Nonetheless, judges concern no-knock warrants when police imagine that saying their presence after knocking would consequence within the destruction of objects they’re in search of.

A second argument utilized by supporters of no-knock warrants is that they cut back the dangers to the police and others. A sudden entrance gives officer security by the factor of shock over a suspect on the opposite facet of the door who has time to arm themselves — or so the argument goes.

Critics, nevertheless, say that no-knock warrants often create extra harmful conditions. That is clearly what occurred in Minneapolis. It additionally occurred two years in the past when the Louisville Metro Police Division secured a no-knock warrant that resulted within the slaying of an harmless lady, Breonna Taylor. That incident resulted in a public outcry towards no-knock entries, and the Louisville Metro Council responded by banning the follow.

Minneapolis Cops Sought to ‘Shield the Public’

On Feb. 10, unsealed court docket paperwork in Minneapolis revealed that police investigators stated they wanted the stealthier entry to “defend the general public and searchers.” Police stated they recovered a .223 caliber spent cartridge, a spherical that’s able to penetrating police physique armor, on the unique homicide scene the place Elder died.

On that foundation, Decide Peter Cahill granted the no-knock warrant — which, as current disclosures reveal, is a frequent follow in Minneapolis.

Within the wake of the George Floyd killing in Could 2020, Minneapolis instituted police reforms that supposedly restricted the usage of no-knock warrants. However not like Louisville and different cities which have banned no-knock entries, together with Memphis and San Antonio, its use has not declined in Minneapolis. A Minneapolis Star Tribune investigation discovered that police common 139 no-knock entries yearly, and as of Feb. 5, they had been on observe to match that tempo for 2022.

On Feb. 5, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ordered a moratorium on the usage of no-knock warrants pending a evaluation of the division’s coverage by two nationwide consultants who helped to form Breonna’s Legislation in Louisville.

A Rising Backlash In opposition to No-Knock Warrants

Across the nation, there’s been a backlash towards no-knock warrants as proof has emerged about how these raids typically play out. In 2017, the New York Occasions reported that between 2010 and 2016, a complete of 81 civilians and 13 law enforcement officials died in such raids. The Occasions additionally discovered that the officer fatality price in no-knock raids is twice as excessive as in customary searches, though one can argue that the conditions calling for no-knock warrants are inherently extra harmful.

Whereas some cities ban them, solely three states — Florida, Oregon, and Virginia — ban no-knock raids. No less than 34 states limit them in varied methods, and 13 explicitly enable them.

On the federal stage, in the meantime, there’s a rising motion to limit no-knock warrants. Final September, the Justice Division issued a department-wide coverage that locations higher limits on the circumstances underneath which brokers can use no-knock entries.

Within the wake of the Locke capturing, the Biden administration lately introduced it’s contemplating increasing the Justice Division restrictions to different businesses, such because the Division of Homeland Safety.

The authorized panorama round no-knock warrants could also be altering, however that does not imply that prison expenses stemming from most police raids are any much less critical. In case you are in that state of affairs, an skilled prison protection lawyer could possibly assist.

You Don’t Have To Remedy This on Your Personal – Get a Lawyer’s Assist

Assembly with a lawyer can assist you perceive your choices and how one can greatest defend your rights. Go to our lawyer listing to discover a lawyer close to you who can assist.


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