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The death of Breonna Taylor one year ago drew increased attention to the use of “no-knock” warrants and police raids. Three states have since adopted “Breonna’s law,” banning the practice, and major police departments and cities have also prohibited its use. But Kentucky, Breonna’s home, has not yet banned no-knock warrants statewide. State Rep. Attica Scott joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.
The death of Breonna Taylor has drawn increased attention to the use of no-knock warrants, allowing law enforcement to enter certain premises without announcing themselves. Since then, three states have adopted "Breonna's law," banning the practice, and major police departments and cities, including Louisville, have also prohibited its use.
But statewide Kentucky has not yet banned no-knock warrants. I spoke with State Representative Attica Scott who has introduced a "Breonna's law" bill. I asked her why gaining statewide approval is important and who it will help.
Breonna's Law for Kentucky House Bill 21 was the people's Breonna's law, and it would have ended no-knock search warrants across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It mandated alcohol and drug testing for officers who have been involved in deadly incidences like the murder of Breonna Taylor. The bill would also require the use of body-worn cameras when issuing a search warrant so that the process can be documented.
What's the primary opposition? Who are the forces that are aligned against it?
Well, the President of the Senate filed a bill in the Senate the day before the filing deadline a few weeks ago. And so that's the bill that the body ended up pushing through. We're now working to try to amend it to include some of what we had in the People's Breonna's Law House Bill 21, including making sure that officers have clear insignia when they are coming to someone's door and also making sure that we restrict the use of no-knock search warrants because the bill that did pass committee Senate Bill 4, expands the use of no-knock search warrants. So we don't want that.
What to you is that threshold where you would say there has been justice served for the Taylor family?
For many of us who are on the front lines of seeking justice for Breonna Taylor, we continue to demand that every single officer who was involved with her murder on Friday, March 13th, 2020, is fired, arrested, and charged for her murder. That hasn't happened yet at all. And so we continue with those demands, but also with policy demands, because we're very clear that what happened to Breonna Taylor and what happened that night includes the use of no-knock warrants. It also includes some other police accountability measures that must be addressed, the fact that no aid was rendered to her as she gasped for life. That's one of the amendments that we put into Senate Bill 4, is to make sure that there's an EMT nearby to render aid if someone is injured.
You're even asking for Attorney General Merrick Garland to look into this. Why?
Because it's important to us to make sure that someone, somewhere is fully investigating the murder of Breonna Taylor, it didn't happen from our attorney general here in Kentucky, didn't happen from the commonwealth's attorney in Louisville. It has to happen from someone somewhere. And it makes sense to me that our new attorney general, Merrick Garland, be the person to lead a full and thorough investigation of Breonna Taylor's murder.
What happens when you go back to your constituents and you say, our vote didn't even have a chance.
Many people from Louisville came to the state capital, some people who had never been to their state capitol in their lives came here that day. And then to have to go outside and say to folks, 'we didn't get what we wanted, didn't win our bill passing.' But it wasn't a loss that we have to make sure that we see the opportunity to add amendments to Senate Bill 4 as moving forward with policy justice. But it's not easy, it's been hard for people and they've been wearing their hearts on their sleeves and opening themselves up to being vulnerable for people who just don't understand what it means to seek justice for someone who's no longer with us.
State representative from Kentucky, Attica Scott, thanks so much for joining us.
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