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Bill limiting no-knock warrants passes House, goes to Gov. Beshear’s desk

The Kentucky General Assembly
The Kentucky General Assembly(Edward Crim | legislature.ky.gov/)
Updated: Mar. 30, 2021 at 8:53 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) - The Kentucky House passed through a police reform bill dealing with no-knock warrants on the final day of regular session in the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 4, in its original version, would set up new rules and procedures when it comes to performing search warrants without notice, including the requirement of judges to review applications impartially and to require SWAT or special response teams to perform no-knock warrants.

The legislation was created in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s death, who was shot and killed by LMPD officers executing a no-knock drug warrant in her apartment. On that night, officers claimed to have knocked and announced, but several witnesses stated they did not.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a “warning” shot into the hallway as officers forced into the apartment. The bullet hit LMPD Sgt. Jon Mattingly in the femoral artery, which led to officers returning fire. Taylor was hit five times and later died.

SB4, sponsored by Senator Robert Stivers (R)-Manchester, was one of two bills brought into General Assembly to reform police activity following the incident. The other, House Bill 21, sponsored by Representative Attica Scott (D)-Louisville, would require all officers to give notice upon entering a residence and wearing bodycams when performing a search warrant.

Since the bill’s introduction into the Senate, several amendments were filed that would loosen restrictions for smaller cities, require law enforcement officers to be clearly identifiable as officers, and requiring an EMT to be nearby while serving the warrant.

The amendments bring the bill closer to many city and state’s implementation of Breonna’s Law, calling for a full ban of no-knock warrants across the state.

While several lawmakers argued that the bill was not strong enough, it passed the House 92-5 on Tuesday.

The bill will now be forwarded to Governor Andy Beshear’s desk to be signed into law.

Breonna’s Law, which banned no-knock warrants in Louisville Metro, was signed into law by Mayor Greg Fischer last summer. He issued the following statement on Twitter Tuesday applauding SB4′s passage by the Kentucky House:

“It is clear that the risk that no-knock warrants brings to residents and police officers outweighs the benefits. That is why I was proud to sign Breonna’s Law, banning this kind of search in Louisville last June.

And I applaud the state legislature for making statewide reforms that set significant limits on its use.

My congratulations to Senate President Robert Stivers, state Rep. Attica Scott and Sen. Gerald Neal for their commitment and persistence in taking this step to recognize the dangers of these warrants.”

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