The grand jury’s decision yesterday in the murder of 26 year old Breonna Taylor exposes some of the many problems with our criminal justice system, particularly the use of no-knock warrants. There is so much wrong with this outcome like the fact that Louisville Police executed a no-knock warrant on her home, that no drugs were found in her home, that she was not even the target of any police investigation, and that no one has yet, or will, stand trial for this outcome. This piece however, just focuses on the type of search warrant used.
Yesterday’s announcement is unsurprising in that criminal charges seldom follow the most notorious incidents where the police kill Black Americans. Even when the cases of police killings of Black Americans make the national news, they do not normally result in criminal indictments and almost never in criminal convictions. Names such as Eric Garner, Botham Jean, Stephon Clark, Philando Castile, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, or Freddie Gray briefly gained national prominence in the news media but did not except in one case, result in a criminal conviction.
No-knock warrants played a central role in the death of Breonna Taylor. When a no-knock warrant was used against former Trump associate, Paul Manafort, the well-known television legal pundit, Jeffrey Toobin reassured Americans that magistrates put a great deal of care into issuing no-knock warrants. In reality though, the probable cause needed to be shown to get a search warrant is not a high standard to meet and warrants, statistically speaking are more often given than not.