POLITICS

Louisville City Council Bans No-Knock Warrants After Breonna Taylor’s Death

“Metro Council’s passage of Breonna’s Law is a small bit of justice for Breonna’s mourning family and our angry, heartbroken city,” the ACLU of Kentucky said.

Lawmakers banned the Louisville Metro Police Department from using no-knock warrants on Thursday amid growing outcry over the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was fatally shot in her own home by officers earlier this year.

The Louisville Metro Council unanimously passed the measure, known as Breonna’s Law Thursday. It bans the use of so-called no-knock warrants that had allowed police officers to enter a residence without warning or without identifying themselves.

Breonna’s Law also mandates that LMPD officers wear operating body cameras when executing any warrant and retain the recordings for at least five years. The passage comes amid protests across the U.S. calling for an end to systemic racism and violent policing tactics that disproportionately affect people of color.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said he planned to sign the law “as soon as it hits my desk.”

“I suspended use of these warrants indefinitely last month, and wholeheartedly agree with Council that the risk to residents and officers with this kind of search outweigh any benefit,” the mayor wrote on Twitter. “This is one of many critical steps on police reform that we’ve taken to create a more peaceful, just, compassionate and equitable community.”

Breonna Taylor, an emergency room technician, at a graduation ceremony in Louisville, Kentucky.
Breonna Taylor, an emergency room technician, at a graduation ceremony in Louisville, Kentucky.

Taylor, 26, an emergency room technician, was fatally shot by police on March 13 as they executed a no-knock search warrant. Accounts about the shooting differ: Police say Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired upon them after they knocked, identified themselves and entered the apartment shortly after midnight. Law enforcement returned fire, hitting Taylor eight times.

Her family disputes that account, however, saying officers did not identify themselves and noting that Walker, who was licensed to carry a firearm, believed someone was trying to break into the apartment and was acting in self-defense. A police report from the LMPD published this week incorrectly noted Taylor suffered no injuries and said there was no forced entry even though officers used a battering ram.

The Louisville Courier-Journal later reported the warrant also related to an investigation of two men who didn’t live at Taylor’s home, but authorities believed the suspects had used the apartment’s address to receive packages. A judge signed the no-knock order.

The ACLU of Kentucky noted Thursday the law only applies to the Louisville Metro Police Department, but said it appears the provision would not rein in the use of such warrants by other departments in the county. The group praised the passage of the law but called for it to be extended countywide.

“Metro Council’s passage of Breonna’s Law is a small bit of justice for Breonna’s mourning family and our angry, heartbroken city,” Michael Aldridge, executive director of the ACLU of Kentucky, said in a statement. “It’s an important, but small step in the fight to eradicate racist police violence that has taken too many lives.”

No-knock warrants have drawn growing criticism in recent months. On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced legislation that would ban them nationwide after speaking with Taylor’s family.

“After talking with Breonna Taylor’s family, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s long past time to get rid of no-knock warrants,” Paul said in a statement. “This bill will effectively end no-knock raids in the United States.”