Louisville’s Shame

Say her name, “Breonna Taylor.” The world knows Breonna Taylor’s name because, as she slept in her own bed in her own apartment in Louisville, police officers entered her home unannounced with guns drawn and shot and killed her by mistake. Facts later revealed the officers were executing a “no-knock” warrant. But they went to the wrong apartment. And killed an innocent person sleeping in her bed. 

The killing of Breonna Taylor was the consequence of human error, but it never would have happened without the use of a “no-knock” warrant. After Breonna Taylor’s killing, the Louisville Metro Council voted unanimously to ban the use of no-knock warrants.

What Is a No-Knock Warrant?

A no-knock warrant is a type of search warrant that gives police officers the authority to enter a building without knocking or stating their purpose. According to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, no-knock warrants were originally intended for use in hostage situations and to catch snipers. They became widely used during the “War on Drugs” when police forces were militarized and trained (like SWAT teams) for search and seizure. The warrants have always targeted people of color, in Kentucky and across the nation. In the case of Breonna Taylor, the no-knock warrant was signed by a judge for use in a low-level drug investigation. 

For a deeper explanation, see online information about no-knock warrants.

Why Are No-Knock Warrants Dangerous?

No-knock warrants are commonly used for non-life-threatening situations across Kentucky and throughout the nation, especially in investigations of people of color. When used as intended, no-knock warrants can save lives. When used by law enforcement as an investigative tool, these warrants are, by definition, inappropriate and can be deadly. 

Almost half of Americans live in a home with one or more guns, and the Stand Your Ground law in Kentucky allows people being attacked to meet force with force. This creates a dangerous scenario for the public and for law enforcement. It is inevitable that guns will be shot at innocent people and at police officers, as long as no-knock warrants are issued. 

Is Police Reform Enough?

Police reform is not enough. Equality and justice can begin with eliminating unnecessary force and bias-based behavior in law enforcement. We also need to change the attitudes, training, and tools that have led to the militarization of police forces. All of these changes need to be under an umbrella of helping and peace-keeping, rather than one of militarization and defensive aggression. Violence at the hand of police will continue until these reforms take place.

Have You Been a Victim of Police Brutality?

If you or someone you love has suffered from the use of excessive or unnecessary force at the hands of law enforcement, you deserve justice. Lawyers who specialize in police brutality can explain your rights and options for seeking justice, including the arrest of police officers and civil lawsuits.