Bill banning no-knock warrants passes in House Public Safety Committee

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A bill that would ban the use of no-knock warrants has passed the House’s Public Safety Committee.

Amir Locke, 22, was fatally shot by Minneapolis police last February while they were serving a no-knock warrant.

Locke was not named in the warrants for the police raid but was staying at the home of his cousin, Mekhi Speed. Speed was arrested in Winona in connection to the killing of 38-year-old Otis Elder.

His father, Andre Locke, testified on behalf of the legislation.

“Shooting Amir under these circumstances, without warning or opportunity to comply is unreasonable force under the 4th Amendment,” said Locke. “Our hearts are broken and there is nothing in the world that will make that better. Amir was a beautiful 22-year-old man with his whole life to be lived and we’ll never know what his contribution, what it would be and how he would make the world a better place.”

This is the second year in a row he has advocated for a bill to restrict no-knock warrants.

“No-knock warrants are not safe for civilians, Black and brown civilians, or safe for police officers,” said Locke. “I have a great sense of hope. I’ve seen progress over the last year and we hope to get justice for Amir.”

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Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey then banned city police officers from executing these warrants, with few exceptions.

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A pair of bills banning them throughout Minnesota — with a few exceptions — are up for consideration in both the state House and Senate.

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Under the House bill, “A court may not issue or approve a no-knock search warrant.”

It was introduced by Representative Brion Curran who cited the 4th Amendment while she made the case for the bill.

“To protect our 4th Amendment rights and make sure that we’re having safer interactions with police,” Curran said. “It’s a danger to police officers to go into that territory unannounced, it’s a danger to officers and we’ve seen it’s a danger to our community.”

Republican lawmakers pushed back by arguing the warrants are an essential tool for law enforcement and that officers have shown responsible discretion in deciding when to use them.

Representative Walter Hudson cited a 5 INVESTIGATES report that found judges signed off on at least 70 no-knock warrants during a three month period starting in September 2021. The BCA data showed officers carried out 49 of them.

“Officers sought and judges agreed with presented evidence that this was appropriate and proper thing to do,” said Hudson. “I feel as though this bill is legislating to the exception, this bill is legislating to the headlines, this bill is rooted in emotion, it is not rooted in outcomes.”

Follow the progress of other notable bills with KSTP’s Legislative Tracker.

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