LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Cheers erupted outside Metro Hall on Thursday night as "Breonna's Law" unanimously passed Louisville's Metro Council, banning the use of no-knock warrants in the city.
An amendment making Breonna's Law a total ban of no-knock warrants, which allow police to enter a home without announcing their presence, was introduced and unanimously approved during Thursday's Council meeting. A draft of the legislation initially limited police use of no-knock warrants to extreme circumstances involving a threat of harm or death to officers or civilians.
Under the new legislation, officers executing any search warrant must physically knock on an entry door at the premises and "clearly and verbally announce as law enforcement having a search warrant in a manner than can be heard by the occupants," according to a news release from Metro Council. Barring pressing circumstances, officers must then "wait a minimum of 15 seconds or for a reasonable amount of time for occupants to answer the door, whichever is greater, before entering the premises."
Breonna's Law also requires that body cameras be worn and activated by all officers present for at least five minutes before and after a warrant is issued. The body camera footage must also be retained for at last five years.
"It's not very often that we get 26 out of 26 votes on anything," said Councilwoman Jessica Green, D-1, one of the original sponsors of Breonna's Law. "... I'm proud to be a Louisvillian; this is probably the proudest feeling that I have had in the five years that I have been a member of this Council, so it's a good day to be a Louisvillian, and the entire world is watching us."
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a tweet that he plans to sign Breonna's Law "as soon as it hits my desk."
"I suspended use of these warrants indefinitely last month, and wholeheartedly agree with Council that the risk to residents and officers with this kind of search outweigh any benefit," Fischer said in the tweet.
The passing of Breonna's Law was one of the key demands of protesters who have taken to Louisville's streets over the past two weeks to call for justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room tech and former EMT who was shot eight times and killed by LMPD officers during a supposed drug raid on March 13. Officers used a no-knock warrant to enter Taylor's apartment.
Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, said after the Council passed Breonna's law that all her daughter wanted to do was save lives.
"With this law, she'll get to continue to do that, so we're grateful for that. She would be so — she would be so happy," Palmer said.
The killing of Taylor, a black woman, has drawn national scrutiny and protests throughout the country.
Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, has told police he thought Taylor and he were being robbed. He said he fired at officers when they rushed in, hitting one in the leg. An attempted murder charge against him was dismissed.
Before Breonna's Law passed Thursday in Louisville, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced that he filed legislation prohibiting the use of no-knock warrants around the country. Paul's legislation is called the "Justice for Breonna Taylor Act."
Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, D-4, said that if such a ban can be passed in Louisville, it can be passed across the nation.
"Louisville, Kentucky, is black in consciousness today, and my challenge and my request to the nation is, 'Can we all be black in consciousness?'" she asked.
However, the president of the local police union said he believes the ban was an overreach by the Council and that no-knock warrants serve as a "valuable tool" for police.
River City FOP president Ryan Nichols said he doesn’t think the ban falls under Metro Council’s purview
"We don't feel like Metro Council should legislate administrative policies of the police department,” he said. "If they feel that the mayor, whose job that is, isn't doing his job, then they probably need to address that issue."
Police have said that no-knock warrants were mainly used in situations when officer safety was at risk or when suspects could destroy evidence quickly.
"No knock warrants are a very valuable tool for law enforcement when used in the right circumstances,” Nichols said.
He also said such warrants accounted for a very small percentage of warrants executed by LMPD.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is among a team of lawyers representing Taylor's family in a wrongful death lawsuit against the officers involved in the raid on her apartment, called the passage of the law "a moment."
"This is a moment to address the historic disparate treatment of black Americans at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve them," he said.
- 'Breonna's Law,' aimed at regulating no-knock warrants in Louisville, passes Public Safety Committee
- Prosecutors drop attempted murder charge against Breonna Taylor's boyfriend
- Sen. Rand Paul files legislation, named after Breonna Taylor, to ban no-knock warrants nationwide
- Family of Louisville EMT killed during LMPD raid files wrongful death lawsuit against officers
- Police: Detective who sought 'no-knock' search warrant for Breonna Taylor's home reassigned
- Mayor Greg Fischer discusses Breonna's Law, Louisville's police department and unrest
- Debate continues over no-knock warrants ahead of vote on 'Breonna's Law'
- Kentucky attorney general says he is seeking 'truth' and 'justice' in Breonna Taylor probe
- Democrats propose sweeping police overhaul; Trump criticizes
- Fischer seeks top-to-bottom review of Louisville police department
- Attorney representing Breonna Taylor's family says police made mistakes in raid, calls for end of 'no-knock' warrants
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