FRANKFORT, Ky — After lawmakers rejected a statewide ban on no-knock warrants, a Kentucky state House committee advanced a version Wednesday that limits the practice but stops short of a sweeping prohibition, nearly one year after the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.
The bill now heads to the House floor for a vote. It passed the Kentucky Senate unanimously on Feb. 25.
Sponsored by GOP Senate President Robert Stivers, the bill mandates that no-knock warrants would only be issued if there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the “crime alleged is a crime that would qualify a person, if convicted, as a violent offender.” The warrants would also have to be executed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
It also includes measures that would require officers to take more steps in order to obtain warrants in the limited circumstances they are allowed. Judges would also be required to sign legibly when approving them.
Last summer, many demonstrators called on state and national officials to ban no-knock warrants after the March 13, 2020, death of Taylor.
Taylor, a Black woman, was shot in her home multiple times by police during a botched drug raid in Louisville. A grand jury indicted one officer on wanton endangerment charges in September for shooting into a neighbor’s apartment, but no officers were charged in connection with her death.
Police had a no-knock warrant but said they knocked and announced their presence before entering Taylor’s apartment, a claim some witnesses have disputed. No drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment.
A bill that includes a complete ban on no-knock warrants was also brought up for discussion before the committee Wednesday, but was not voted on.
Sponsored by state Rep. Attica Scott, a Louisville Democrat who took part in downtown protests last year, the proposal outlines penalties for officers who misuse body cameras and mandates drug and alcohol testing of officers involved in “deadly incidents.”
Scott, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, joined three other Democratic representatives in passing on Stivers’ bill, reserving the right to vote “yes” on the floor. Fifteen other senators on the committee voted in favor of Stivers’ measure.
“I would love to see some of these reasonable amendments that Rep. Scott is proposing get on this bill going forward,” Democratic state Rep. Patti Minter said. “But I look forward to being a ‘yes’ on the floor if that happens.”
Senate President Stivers noted that both he and Scott had discussed some areas in her bill that could possibly be incorporated into the bill he has sponsored.
“I truly appreciate Rep. Scott’s work in this area. And I don’t think that we are seeking different outcomes,” Stivers said. “I think we are just looking at it from a different method.”
If any changes were made through floor amendments, the altered legislation would be sent to the Senate for another vote.
Louisville’s Metro Council banned all no-knock warrants in June 2020. Virginia passed a ban on all no-knock warrants last fall. The warrants are also not permitted under Oregon and Florida state law.
Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.