Pressure Mounts To Ban No-Knock Warrants As Death Rate Of Innocent People Climbs

( Following last week’s killing of Amir Locke by police in Minneapolis, calls are intensifying for a full ban on no-knock warrants in the region.

Locke, a 22-year-old who is Black, was killed by police while they were executing a raid. It was a no-knock warrant, which means officers entered their property without announcing that they were there beforehand.

Despite this push, many legal experts and even some police reform advocates say that a full ban on the practice might not even be enough to avoid tragedies such as these.

Andre Locke and Karen Wells, Amir Locke’s parents, said no-knock warrants are a full failure by law enforcement, which ultimately resulted in their son’s death.

As Karen told CNN recently:

“The whole system. He wasn’t killed. He wasn’t murdered. He was executed.”

SWAT officers entered Locke’s apartment in Minneapolis and saw him hidden under a blanket while lying on the couch. He was holding a pistol.

The SWAT officers shot him several times during the raid. It was being conducted as part of a St. Paul homicide investigation.

Locke himself wasn’t ever a target of the search warrants or the investigation. A 17-year-old cousin of his was arrested in Winona, Minnesota, on Monday.

After Locke’s killing, his parents and many reform groups have called on the city of Minneapolis to commit banning no-knock warrants. Many local legal experts and officials have also questioned the city’s mayor, Jacob Frey, about why policies that were initiated after the 2020 deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have fallen short.

But, many people are saying that banning no-knock warrants just isn’t enough. A senior staff attorney with the Policing Project at New York University, Nila Bala, said:

“Just banning no-knock warrants may not be sufficient because police also use an approach called knock-and-announce with dynamic entry. Technically, the officers do announce their entry — perhaps hitting the door once and then barging in with a battering ram.

“It’s effectively a no-knock warrant because individuals don’t have a chance to gather themselves and actually answer the door. It’s a no-knock under another name.”

In fact, Bala said that most entries by police aren’t done with no-knock warrants but rather the knock-and-announce with dynamic entry — meaning banning no-knocks wouldn’t do much, if anything at all, to fix the problem.

Law enforcement agencies get approval for this no-knock warrants from judges, but they must first prove there exists probable cause that executing the warrant might result in the suspect either destroying evidence or trying to harm the police officers.

Many of the no-knock warrants are carried out during drug investigations.

There are certainly cases where no-knock warrants would be necessary, some people said, but they need to be restricted for most uses. As Thor Eells, the head of the National Tactical Officers Association, explained:

“If you try and say ‘well, law enforcement is going to have to wait a minimum of 30 seconds,’ well, I will absolutely guarantee you that in of itself is going to result in injuries to law enforcement and death as well as to suspects, because once the shooting begins, law enforcement is going to respond.”