LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – After stalling for more than a month, an amended bill drafted in response to the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor that would enact stricter measures on police obtaining no-knock warrants now appears likely to become law.
The House overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 4 on Tuesday by a 92-5 vote, and the Senate unanimously concurred, sending the bill to Gov. Andy Beshear.
"Out of the tragedy of Breonna Taylor's death has come this good," said Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville.
Some legislators, like Louisville Rep. Reginald Meeks, felt the no-knock bill did not go far enough.
"The only way to stop this is to ban this practice across the board," he said.
The bill, sponsored by Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, does prohibit no-knock warrants except under extreme situations, like when there is "clear and convincing" evidence of a violent crime or terroristic activity.
And it requires that body cameras be used, unless the warrant is served by law enforcement in a county with a population of less than 90,000 people, where some departments don’t yet have body cams. Those departments still must use audio to record the raids.
If law enforcement fails to use body cams or audio during the raid, evidence obtained will not be admissible in court against the defendant.
Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, who filed a House bill that would have banned no-knock warrants outright, reluctantly voted for the Senate bill Tuesday.
"While this body will never truly address racial justice, I voted 'yes' because daughters like mine deserve a chance to live without wondering if they will be next," Scott said in a statement, which was read by Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively.
No-knock warrants allow police officers to forcibly enter a home without warning.
The bill, which comes more than a year after Louisville Metro Police officers obtained a no-knock warrant and raided Taylor's apartment after midnight on March 13, provides more monitoring and requires police take additional steps to obtain these types of warrants.
The legislation requires the officer seeking the warrant to have approval from a supervisor, consult with a commonwealth attorney or county attorney and disclose to the judge any previous attempts asking a different judge to sign off on the warrant.
Those serving the no-knock warrant must be members of a special weapons and tactics team or another established, trained team. However, an amendment allows judges in counties with a population under 90,000 to approve a no-knock warrant if a special weapons and tactics team are not available.
The bill also now requires law enforcement officers serving a no-knock warrant to have "clearly visible insignia" identifying their agency.
And an emergency medical technician must be "in proximity and available to provide medical assistance, if needed," according to another amendment.
Also, if the bill becomes law, a judge must legibly sign the warrant. This was an issue highlighted by a KyCIR-WDRB News investigation.
In addition, the bill would require that no-knock warrants be served only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
According to attorney Lonita Baker, Taylor's family is encouraged by the passage of the bill. However, they said it does not include the full, comprehensive changes they were seeking.
Taylor, 26, was shot six times and died at the scene. No drugs were found in her home.
Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, thought they were being robbed, according to his attorney, and fired at officers when they rushed in, hitting Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the leg.
A Jefferson County grand jury indicted one of the officers, former Detective Brett Hankison, on three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into an apartment near Taylor's unit, where a man, pregnant woman and child were at the time.
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