Memphis lawmaker seeks to ban no-knock warrants statewide

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — No-knock warrants like the one obtained in the Breonna Taylor case could one day be illegal if a Memphis lawmaker gets her way.

Democratic State Sen. Raumesh Akbari began drafting a bill in June that would require law enforcement officers to knock and identify themselves before entering dwellings.

Akbari said the legislation is in response to the Taylor case in which two Louisville, Kentucky police officers fatally shot Taylor while serving a warrant at her home.

“This is not supposed to be punitive. We want to make sure that our officers are protected, but also the lives of innocent people,” said Akbari.

Although police in the Taylor case had originally obtained a no-knock warrant, the officers claim they announced themselves before entering Taylor’s home. Taylor’s boyfriend and several neighbors dispute this.

Taylor’s boyfriend opened fire on the officers claiming he thought they were intruders. Taylor was killed when the officers returned fire.

It’s exactly the type of deadly scenario Akbari said she’s trying to prevent.

“You have a no-knock warrant, someone has kind of rammed themselves into your house, they have not announced themselves and who they are, they’re not in uniform, I think the things that most folks would do would be to shoot back and that endangers the lives of police officers as well,” she said.

The Memphis Police Department banned no-knock warrants in June, although they say they weren’t serving many to begin with.

“I can’t remember the last time Memphis police served a no-knock warrant,” Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said at a press conference Thursday.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office won’t confirm if its deputies are currently allowed to serve no-knock warrants, saying only that its policies on the matter are under review.

Akbari says she’s committed to meeting with members of law enforcement before any legislation is submitted and wouldn’t rule out exceptions to the no-knock warrant ban.

“I’m certainly open to different feedback and different possibilities, but I certainly think that at a minimum announcing yourself and you can knock and then enter,” Akbari said.

Rallings said his officers are already required to wear something that identifies them as police officers when serving warrants.

Akbari hopes to introduce the bill when the legislature reconvenes in January.

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