Kentucky governor signs bill limiting ‘no-knock’ police raids

New law in US state is a response to the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed by police.

The family of Breonna Taylor joined Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear at the signing of a bill creating a partial ban on no-knock warrants at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage in Louisville, Kentucky, the US [Timothy D Easley/AP]

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear on Friday signed a bill into state law limiting the use of “no-knock” police raids to cases involving violent crime.

The new law is a response to the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed by police during a misdirected drug raid in March 2020. Taylor’s death set off demonstrations across the United States.

“This is meaningful change. It will save lives and it moves us in the right direction,” Beshear, a Democrat, said in remarks at the bill signing attended by Taylor’s mother, a tearful Tamika Palmer, at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage in Louisville.

Beshear said he was signing the bill “to make sure no other mother goes through the pain Tamika Palmer has felt”.

The new law bans unannounced, nighttime drug raids like the one that killed Taylor as she slept. No drugs were found and it was later determined police raided the wrong location.

The bill signed into law by Beshear limits no-knock searches by police to cases involving violent crimes such as murder, rape and assault and bans raids between 10pm and 6am. It is not a full ban on the police tactic that had been sought by Taylor’s family.

“While it’s not the full legislation that they wanted in terms of a complete ban on no-knock warrants, they are satisfied that this is a start and a win in a deeply divided General Assembly,” the family’s lawyer Lonita Baker told The Associated Press.

A protester holds up a painting of Breonna Taylor during a rally on the first anniversary of her death at Jefferson Square Park in Louisville, Kentucky on March 13, 2021 [Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo]

“Breonna’s Law” would have banned all no-knock warrants, outlined penalties for officers who misuse body cameras and mandated drug and alcohol testing of officers involved in “deadly incidents”.

No charges were filed against the officers who shot into Taylor’s apartment, although two involved in the raid have been fired by the Louisville police department.

Amid national protests, the Louisville chief of police announced his retirement and the city of Louisville suspended the future use of no-knock warrants indefinitely.

Elsewhere, the state of Virginia passed a ban on all no-knock warrants last year. No-knock warrants are not allowed in Florida and Oregon.

In September, the city of Louisville agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit by paying $12m to Taylor’s family.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies