Law in Contemporary Society

Why No - Knock Warrants Should Be Illegal

-- By TarynWilkins - 18 Apr 2022

Time and time again, innocent Black people are being unreasonably executed through loopholes in the way we are policed. Is the only way to end such tragedy to get rid of the very mechanisms that allow police officers to think the violence they participate in is warranted, or do we something else?

History Repeats Itself

On February 2, 2022, 22 year old Amir Locke was awoken by Minneapolis police officers storming into his house. About ten seconds later, with the very blanket he went to sleep with still wrapped around him, he was murdered. This is not the first time such a tragedy has occurred at the hands of Minneapolis police officers as just a few years ago, the Minneapolis police department’s murdered George Floyd. While it may still be argued George Floyd did not get justice, at least his killer was charged. Unfortunately for Amir Locke however, the same can not be said.

No - Knock Warrants

The Minneapolis Police Department was using a search warrant signed by a judge who authorized the use of a 'no knock' warrant when they killed Amir Locke, the same way in which Breonna Taylor was killed. No knock warrants were first used as a tool through the courts in order to preserve evidence, primarily crack cocaine. However, that was during the war of drugs, an unfortunate reality of the 80s, but not today, decades later. Thor Eells, the executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association has stated “(We)'ve been strongly teaching, advocating, for other alternatives."

In the process of obtaining the warrant, “a sergeant detailed why police believed a no-knock warrant would be the best option: It ‘enables officers to execute the warrant more safely by allowing officers to make entry into the apartment without alerting the suspects inside. This will not only increase officer safety, but it will also decrease the risk for injuries to the suspects and other residents nearby.’

This tactic seems to go against exactly what the Fourth Amendment was made for. “You've got to get a warrant, have to knock and announce, have to give proper notice, have to give time to answer the door, and if you need to engage in a risky arrest situation or volatile, dangerous arrest situation, figure out a different way to do it than to bust down a private resident's door and manufacture a really dangerous situation", says Peter Kraska, a researcher at Eastern Kentucky University who's studied warrants and policing. There's A Growing Consensus In Law Enforcement Over No-Knock Warrants: The Risks Outweigh The Rewards

At least four states (Florida, Oregon, Connecticut and Virginia) have banned no-knock warrants. Minnesota should be the next, as well as the entire country of the United States.

Their Excuse? That Locke had a gun.

In a graphic, and short, video clip from a police body-worn camera that was released in the aftermath of the killing, Mr. Locke is seen startled as he raises a gun that he held in his hand.” He was not a suspect on the warrant that brought the officers to his residence to begin with. “No Charges Against Police in Amir Locke Shooting” . The officer who killed Amir Locke told investigators that once he saw Mr. Locke’s gun (that he had a license for), he feared for his life. Such fear caused him to act quickly “because he felt his life was in jeopardy." Of course, Mr. Hanneman was placed on administrative duty after February 2nd, but that did not last long. He is now back to regularly scheduled programming. Locke's own mother stated the violent nature of Minneapolis is what prompted her son to get a gun in the first place.

The Attorney General states that the circumstances at the incident were “such that an objectively reasonable officer in Officer (Mark) Hanneman's position would have perceived an immediate threat of death or great bodily harm that was reasonably likely to occur, and an objectively reasonable officer would not delay in using deadly force.” That is why the charges were not brought.

I find it hard to believe that anyone who was peacefully asleep on their couch, awoken not by a knock, but instead by police officers and a SWAT team would not be startled. As the body camera footage shows, Locke was clearly not fully awake, so who knows if he even realized what was occurring.

Where do we go from here?

Some renewed calls for an end to the practice of no-knock warrants have followed Locke's death, and many in leadership positions in policing advocacy groups have said there are almost no circumstances where no-knock warrants are appropriate.

Like many of the families of slain Black people at the hands of police officers, Locke’s family has hired Benjamin Crump, the well known civil rights lawyer, to pursue a lawsuit against the city in an effort to push them to make changes to its Police Department.

“In response to Mr. Locke’s killing, the mayor issued a new policy this week, which prohibits no-knock warrants and requires officers to knock and announce their presence, and then wait, before entering a building. Perhaps if the policy was already in place, Amir Locke would still be alive. We do not want, nor do we need reactive policies. We need preventive policies. Now, an innocent Black man is no longer alive while a police officer can go back to his everyday life.

While engaging in this conversation however, it is important to note that the no-knock warrants tool is just a small spoke in the wheel of the never-ending cycle of how Black people are treated in this country. We must be honest with ourselves in realizing that even if no-knock warrants are no longer, who is to say that the police force, the far right, and those who think it is their job to control what anyone who is not white will not find some other horrible way to target Black people like Amir Locke. Racism is taught. Prejudice is taught. The bigger question here is perhaps how do we teach people that no race is beneath the next? How do we teach people how the horrible effects of the police badge is merely a transformation of the effects that came out of the master and the slave dynamic from years ago?


Webs Webs

r3 - 04 Jun 2022 - 21:21:52 - TarynWilkins
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM