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Rand Paul, Morgan McGarvey reintroduce federal bill to ban no-knock warrants

Democratic Rep. Morgan McGarvey speaks at a press conference to announce the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act to ban no-knock warrants federally. Republican sponsor Sen. Rand Paul, Taylor's mother Tamika Palmer, state Democratic Rep. Keturah Herron and Amber Duke with the ACLU of Kentucky also supported the legislation.
Sylvia Goodman
/
LPM
Democratic Rep. Morgan McGarvey speaks at a press conference to announce the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act to ban no-knock warrants federally. Republican sponsor Sen. Rand Paul, Taylor's mother Tamika Palmer, state Democratic Rep. Keturah Herron and Amber Duke with the ACLU of Kentucky also supported the legislation.

A bipartisan team of Kentucky Congress members filed the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act on Monday.

On Wednesday, it will be four years since police entered Breonna Taylor’s apartment on a no-knock warrant and killed her. Taylor’s death sparked outrage and protests across the country.

Three former Louisville Metro Police Department officers were charged with federal crimes related to that warrant. One officer pleaded guilty and admitted the warrant application contained false and misleading statements.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Morgan McGarvey and Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul stood together at a news conference Monday to announce they would file legislation to ban no-knock warrants across the country in honor of Taylor. They were joined by Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother who has emerged as a figure in the racial-justice movement.

Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor's mother, says she supports the federal legislation to ban no-knock warrants and vows to continue fighting so what happened to her daughter doesn't happen again. State Rep. Keturah Herron, a Louisville Democrat, and Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul look on.
Sylvia Goodman
/
LPM
Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor's mother, says she supports the federal legislation to ban no-knock warrants and vows to continue fighting so what happened to her daughter doesn't happen again. State Rep. Keturah Herron, a Louisville Democrat, and Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul look on.

McGarvey said numerous mistakes and injustices happened before police even entered Taylor’s apartment, but banning no-knock warrants themselves are part of the problem. Under this type of warrant, police can enter a residence at any time of the day or night and do not need to announce themselves — as police or otherwise.

In Taylor’s case, police entered her apartment shortly after midnight using a battering ram. Paul and McGarvey say no-knock warrants are dangerous for both the civilian and police officers.

“While the quest continues to have those responsible for Breonna's death answer for their actions, we must also look at the justness of no knock warrants themselves,” McGarvey said. “What happened here on March 13 of 2020 is not an isolated incident in our community, or in our country … We know that executing no-knock warrants can be deadly.”

In a bipartisan move, Kentucky’s legislature already passed a law to limit the use of no-knock warrants in 2021; Louisville Metro Council had also banned the no-knock warrants the year before. Paul and McGarvey said they hope to recreate those bipartisan successes federally.

“I'm sorry that it took the death of Breonna to get everybody unified,” Paul said. “If there's ever any good that came from this tragedy, I'm hoping that the law will change and that will prevent this from ever happening again.”

Paul filed identical legislation in 2020, shortly after Taylor’s death, but it didn’t go anywhere. He says he’s hopeful that the bill will gain more bipartisan support this year. Paul said U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, from New Jersey, will join him in sponsoring the legislation in the Senate. McGarvey said a Republican has not yet joined him in sponsoring the bill on the House side, but he believes there are a few who are interested.

“If we can do this in Kentucky, we can do this nationally. And we can do it across the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, because it's the right thing to do,” McGarvey said. “The Justice for Breonna Taylor Act will protect people, protect law enforcement officers and ultimately make our community safer.”

Palmer, Taylor’s mother, spoke in support of the bill, saying she won’t rest until what happened to her daughter can’t be repeated.

“It's been four years. It's been hard, it continues to be hard, but I still fight and I still make sure that what happened to Breonna doesn't happen again,” Palmer said. “And that's really what's important here.”

McGarvey and Paul’s bill would link compliance with the prohibition on no-knock warrants to Department of Justice funding — any state or local institution that receives money from the DOJ would be required to comply with the law, should it pass.

“Tamika has said many times that Breonna always wanted to save lives. We know she wanted more than that too. She wanted to live. She wanted a family,” McGarvey said. “A no-knock warrant took all of that away from her. With this legislation, we can at least honor her first wish.”

Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Lexington, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.
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