Louisville Police’s ‘no-knock’ Warrants Most Often Targeted Black Residents


Police disproportionately targeted Black residents for “no-knock” search warrants like the one that led officers to Breonna Taylor’s door the night they fatally shot her, an analysis shows.

The findings by the Louisville Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, echo the concerns of civil rights advocates and experts who say no-knock warrants are used more frequently against Black and brown Americans.

“The common factors are the poor and people of color – in a highly disproportionate way,” said Peter Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University who has testified before the U.S. Senate on law enforcement’s use of military tactics and equipment.

In the past two years, before the city banned them in June, Louisville Metro Police Department officers received court approval for at least 27 no-knock warrants – allowing police to legally break in to homes without first knocking, announcing themselves and waiting for residents to respond, usually about 30 seconds.

An analysis by the Courier Journal showed that for 22 of those warrants, 82% of the listed suspects were Black and 68% were for addresses in the West End, a section of Louisville with predominantly Black neighborhoods. Several of the warrants remain sealed by a judge.

State Rep. Attica Scott, sponsor of Breonna’s Law, which would ban no-knock search warrants statewide, said the findings are another example of over-policing in Louisville’s Black communities.

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“Policing has historically, and continues to be, racially disparate,” she said. “It’s not mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually healthy for people to live in fear of law enforcement or to cringe when they see them coming.”

The warrants are a fraction of the thousands of search warrants the LMPD serves each year. In 2019, the department conducted more than 3,000 court-authorized searches.

Supporters of no-knocks said they help protect officers searching for potentially dangerous suspects who might be armed.

In 17 of the no-knock warrants the Courier Journal analyzed, LMPD officers cited a history of violence or the possibility of weapons as the reason for the request – arguing the element of surprise was crucial so police didn’t walk into an ambush.AMIBC® - VOTE! BE COUNTED! BE HEARD!


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