No Knock Warrants Under Fire

From an AP article via Glenn Reynolds:

ATLANTA (AP) — A group of lawmakers wants to make it harder for police to use “no-knock” warrants in the wake of a shootout that left an elderly woman dead after plainclothes officers stormed her home unannounced in a search for drugs.

The measure would allow judges to grant the warrants only if officers can prove a “significant and imminent danger to human life.”

The measure was prompted by the Nov. 21 shootout between Kathryn Johnston and three police officers during a no-knock search of her Atlanta home. When the officers entered without warning, police say that Johnston, 92, fired a handgun at them and that the officers returned fire, killing her. An autopsy concluded she was shot five or six times.

Narcotics officers said an informant had claimed there was cocaine in the home, but none was found.

Democratic Sen. Vincent Fort, a sponsor of the bill, said the case was a warning that it has become too easy to obtain “no-knock” warrants.

“Every citizen ought to be safe and secure in their homes,” Fort said. “A no-knock warrant should be a special warrant, not a standard. And that’s what it’s evolved into.”

An Associated Press review of all no-knock warrants filed in Atlanta’s Fulton County last year found that the authorities involved often give scant detail when applying for the warrants.

No-knock warrants are intended to prevent suspects from getting rid of evidence and to protect officers from violent suspects. They typically are used to search for drugs and weapons.

This is the right thing to do and I hope the measure passes. Please take the time to contact your representatives and express your support for this effort.

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