FRANKFORT – (KT) The bill severely restricting the use of no-knock warrants is now on its way to the governor after the Senate agreed with changes made to the legislation in the House.
The measure, Senate Bill 4, is sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, who explained to the members of his chamber that he went along with the House amendments, particularly one that would affect rural counties who don’t have a SWAT team immediately available, like there are in larger cities.
“This allows the judge, if there are certain circumstances, that you don’t have to wait for a special response team,” he explained. “Sometimes you can’t wait. The judges could, by clear and convincing evidence, allow these types of warrants, no-knocks, to be executed without that tactical team.”
Stivers say two other changes were brought to his attention by several House Democrats, including those from larger cities. One of them, “Being clearly and plainly identified on the execution of the warrant should be mandatory.”
The other is a change from the original requirement of having an EMT on scene, according to Stivers. “Because these are highly volatile situations, subject to having someone injured, the initial suggestion was to have an EMT on site. But after the discussion, the EMT is to be in close proximity, because if something happens, you don’t want someone to be in the area where they may get hurt inadvertently.”
Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, saluted Stivers for his work on the bill. “When it came to acting on this situation with no-knock warrants and the tragedy of Breonna Taylor, the Senate President took the lead in saying, ‘No more. No more, here in Kentucky.’ And I commend him for that.”
Stivers had the bill drafted in the wake of the Breonna Taylor incident in Louisville one year ago this month, when Louisville Metro Police officers attempted to serve a no-knock search warrant for drugs.
Her boyfriend shot and wounded one of the officers attempting to break down the door, because he thought someone was trying to rob them. The officers returned fire, killing Taylor.
Based on evidence presented to a Jefferson County grand jury by Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office, one officer was indicted for wanton endangerment due to shots that went into an adjacent apartment, while no charges were returned against the other two.
No drugs were ever found.
The bill won final passage 34-0 in the Senate, and now heads to the governor’s desk.
(By Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)