Radley Balko has a depressing thread about how difficult it would be to prosecute most if not all the cops responsible for murdering Breonna Taylor on homicide charges:
Oddly, in spite of the no-knock warrant, the police claimed to have knocked and announced. I doubt this. Neighbors didn't hear it. And it makes no sense for Walker, who had done nothing wrong, to open fire on a bunch of armed cops. It's more likely the cops are either lying …— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) September 3, 2020
… once Walker fired, the cops had the right to return fire, also in self defense.
Here's where it gets murky. What effect does the fact that the no-knock portion of the warrant was illegal have on the cops' right to defend themselves? What if the entire warrant was illegal?— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) September 3, 2020
… his civil lawsuit. But I just don't know what effect an illegal warrant signed by a judge would have on the officers' right to self-defense with respect to criminal charges, here.
I'd be curious what lawyers who specialize in this area think.— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) September 3, 2020
from outside the house, meaning the cops were firing at a target they couldn't see. Bullets were found all over the apartment, and in a neighboring apartment.
Also possible but less likely: felony murder for the affiant cop who lied to procure a warrant for a raid …— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) September 3, 2020
… reckless homicide charge would be appropriate if it's true they fired from outside the house, or otherwise recklessly. The judge who signed the warrant should be removed from the bench. And there should be comprehensive review of every warrant served by narcotics cops …— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) September 3, 2020
… over the last 10 or so years. Officials who knew about the reckless way drug cops were serving warrants (which, given that it was published in a paper in 2015, means just about everyone) and did nothing about it should be fired.
More on that here:https://t.co/INcIGYlXYD— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) September 3, 2020
As Balko says, if cops fired shots from outside the house (which in my understanding is very likely the case) they don’t have a plausible case for self-defense and should be charged. But sadly given the warrant it would probably be impossible to convict the cops at the door with murder in the Taylor case even with a fair jury.
Which is the larger structural problem here. No-knock warrants are indefensible in themselves — essentially, they’re premised on the idea that minimizing the risk of the destruction of evidence in drug cases is more important that the safety and security of the person in their homes, a premise that is at war with the Fourth Amendment. But allowing for no-knock warrants in a stand-your-ground jurisdiction is particularly absurd. It’s insane for no-knock warrants to be issued in a context in which basically all the parties can potentially have a legal right to shoot at each other. (Another important point raised in the thread is that it’s instructive that they didn’t think they could make charges against Walker stick.)
These officers should be fired and prosecuted for whatever charges they can be viably charged with. But the bigger lesson here is that no-knock warrants are inevitably going to lead to violent confrontations that aren’t necessary, and the steady erosion of the “probable cause” requirement for warrants from various angles makes the problem even worse. The most important remedy that can follow from Taylor’s murder is for more state legislatures to follow Louisville’s city council in banning no-knock warrants (and the next Dem Congress should ban them for federal law enforcement too.)