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No-Knock Search Warrants: An Overview of the Breonna Taylor Act

Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on April 15, 2024
No Knock Search Warrant Ban Proposal called Breonna's Law


There is no arguing that the tragic events of 2020 that led to 26-year old Breonna Taylor’s death have had a major impact on Louisville. Approaching 4 years since the shooting, the process of investigation into the LMPD is still ongoing. However, the efforts to change the system have not come to a halt. On March 12, 2024, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker reintroduced the “Justice for Breonna Taylor Act.” This no-knock search warrant prohibition act also goes by “Breonna’s Law.”

During the 2020 event, police conducted a no-search warrant raid of Ms. Taylor’s apartment. They were looking for a narcotics suspect, who was an ex-boyfriend of Breonna Taylor. The Louisville Metro Police Department states that the officers conducting the raid knocked several times. However, they did not wear body cameras and no other footage of the event exists. This version of events is also not corroborated in most of the interviews collected from dozens of apartment neighbors. Using a battering ram to enter, her boyfriend – a registered gun owner – perceived the late-night raid as a robbery. He fired a shot that hit an ex-officer in the leg. The police responded with 32 gunshots of their own. At least 6 hit Breonna Taylor, ultimately leading to her death. No drugs were found on the premises.

What is Breonna’s Law?

Breonna’s Law is a national-level no-knock search warrant prohibition act. Boiled down, Breonna’s Law states that law enforcement officers, “notwithstanding any other provision of law, may not execute a warrant until after the officer provides notice of his or her authority and purpose.”

No-knock search warrants permit law enforcement officers to enter a premises without first identifying their authority and purpose. Breonna’s Law is a proposed solution to get rid of this particular type of search warrant. It presents increased danger to both the police officers and residents or suspects of the raid. This is exacerbated by ‘stand your ground’ laws, which encourage legal, registered gun owners to use firearms in the case of protection, as Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend did. In the case of a wrong address, the use of no-knock search warrants not only becomes unconstitutional, but life-threatening.

Other Elements of Breonna’s Law

Breonna’s Law also states that:

  1. No law-enforcement officer shall seek, execute, or participate in the execution of a no-knock search warrant.
  2. A search warrant authorized under this section shall require that a law-enforcement officer be recognizable and identifiable as a uniformed law-enforcement officer.
  3. A law-enforcement officer shall provide audible notice of his authority and purpose that occupants will reasonably hear in such location prior to the execution of such search warrant.
  4. After entering and securing the search location, and prior to undertaking any search or seizure pursuant to the search warrant, the executing law-enforcement officer shall read and give a copy of the search warrant to the person that is to be searched, or the owner of the place to be searched.
    1. If the owner is not present, a copy of the search warrant shall be given to any occupant of the place to be searched.
    2. If the place to be searched is unoccupied, the executing law-enforcement officer shall leave a copy of the search warrant suitably affixed to the place to be searched.
  5. Search warrants authorized under this section shall be executed only in the daytime unless:
    1. A judge or magistrate, if a judge is not available, authorizes the execution of such search warrant at another time for good cause shown
    2. The search warrant is for the withdrawal of blood. A search warrant for the withdrawal of blood may be executed at any time of day.
  6. A law-enforcement officer shall make reasonable efforts to locate a judge before seeking authorization to execute the warrant at another time.
    1. Such reasonable efforts shall be documented in an affidavit and submitted to a magistrate when seeking such authorization.
  7. Any evidence obtained from a search warrant in violation of this subsection shall not be admitted into evidence for the state in any prosecution.

Police Misconduct in Louisville, KY

The reintroduction of Breonna’s Law is just now at the national level again after its original proposal in 2020. Even so, 29 states have already passed laws that ban or restrict no-knock warrants. Louisville and Lexington have a total ban, while the state of Kentucky as a whole heavily restricts the practice. Oregon, Florida, Virginia, and Tennessee all have total bans statewide. Utah prohibits no-knock warrants in cases involving the sole charge of drug possession. Maine restricts no-knock warrants to specific high-risk situations and requires law enforcement officers to wear functioning body cameras.

The fight against police misconduct in Louisville certainly is not over, but Cooper and Friedman are here to help. Please contact us if you or someone you love has experienced:

  • The failure to protect individuals in the care or custody of the law from harm
  • False arrest
  • Excessive use of force
  • Jail beatings
  • Prison death
  • Police sexual harassment
  • Wrongful prosecution or conviction

If you or someone you love has been injured in the event of police misconduct in the State of Kentucky and are in need of an experienced civil rights attorney, give the lawyers at the Cooper & Friedman law firm a call. The attorneys at Cooper and Friedman PLLC have over 50 years of combined experience defending the rights of police misconduct and brutality victims. Contact us with questions you might have or schedule a free case consultation with an attorney by calling 502-459-7555 today.

Posted Under: Civil Rights, Civil Rights Law, Police Misconduct

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