Report Finds Louisville Metro Police Disproportionately Targeted Black People With No-Knock Warrants


Illustration for article titled Report Finds Louisville Metro Police Disproportionately Targeted Black People With No-Knock Warrants
Photo: zef art (Shutterstock)

Oh, look, yet another thing that disproportionately affects Black people. A new study shows that Black people in Louisville, Ky., were overwhelmingly the subjects of no-knock warrants issued over the last two years.

According to a report from the Courier Journal, the Louisville Metro Police received court approval for at least 27 no-knock warrants from 2019-2020. The journal examined 22 of those warrants and found that the suspects were Black in 82 percent of the cases, with 68 percent of the warrants were for homes in the predominantly Black West End area.

Jefferson County is home to 766,757 citizens, with Black people only making up around 22 percent of the population.

“Policing has historically, and continues to be, racially disparate,” State Rep. Attica Scott told the Courier Journal. “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.” Scott is a sponsor of Breonna’s Law, which would ban the use of no-knock warrants statewide.

The use of no-knock warrants was already banned in Louisville back in June, following the widespread protests surrounding the death of Breonna Taylor. Taylor was shot and killed in her home by officers executing a no-knock warrant.

From the Courier Journal:

The no-knock search warrant that brought seven LMPD officers to Taylor’s apartment door shortly before 1 a.m. March 13 has been criticized locally and nationally.

Police said they requested the warrant as part of a larger narcotics investigation, seeking cash and drugs they suspected Taylor held for Jamarcus Glover, her ex-boyfriend and a convicted drug trafficker.

Officers said they decided not to use the no-knock provision and knocked on Taylor’s door, shouting, “Police!” Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was inside the apartment with her, said he never heard police announce themselves.

When officers forced their way in, Walker fired one shot from his legally owned handgun, which police said struck Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh.

Mattingly and Detectives Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison fired back 32 times, hitting Taylor, who wasn’t armed, six times, killing her.

No cash or drugs were recovered from her apartment.

Unsurprisingly, no-knock warrants weren’t the only area where police disproportionately targeted Black people. The report also found that Black people were the subject of 48 percent of regular search warrants issued during this two-year time frame. A separate report by the Courier Journal found that Black motorists were three times more likely to be stopped and searched by Louisville police than white drivers.

The LMPD didn’t respond to the Journal’s request for comment regarding no-knock warrants, with LMPD spokesman Sgt. John Bradley saying in an email, “Since Metro Council has passed an ordinance prohibiting their use by LMPD, discussions on the merits and disadvantages of this tactic have been rendered moot for us.”

This really is white folks’ M.O. They’ll just ban a problem with no desire to discuss why things were the way they were, or what we can do to stop these underlying issues from continuing to happen, and then act surprised that people are still upset about the problem not really being solved.

Bradley did provide a comment on the statistics regarding search warrants without a no-knock provision. “Each search warrant is based on the evidence surrounding an individual case and gives no consideration to the targeting of any specific race of person, nor geographic area within the city,” Bradley told the Courier Journal.

If that was true, the LMPD wouldn’t have had to end the practice of overwhelmingly stopping Black motorists for minor violations in an effort to search them for drugs and weapons.

Just saying.

Earlier this week, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced racism as a public health crisis. The announcement included a list of proposals, one of which was an independent review of the LMPD cultures and practices.

“The danger which no-knock warrants pose to both civilians and police officers is greater than any benefit,” Fischer spokeswoman Jean Porter told the news outlet. “The top-to-bottom review of LMPD that is underway will look at current policies, procedures and protocols LMPD uses.”

Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, said that the problem isn’t simply that cops are overwhelmingly targeting Black neighborhoods, but also that the tactics they use exacerbate distrust in the Black community among law enforcement.

“They’re training officers to be afraid of us,” Reynolds said. “They’re training officers to be afraid of Black residents.” Reynolds has been critical of the use of no-knock warrants and the manner in which the LMPD conducts searches.

“In some instances, I’m sure they found whatever they were looking for,” she told the news outlet. “Think about the times when they haven’t found anything and the trauma on those families.”

State Rep. Scott told the Courier Journal that “a deep reckoning with the history of policing” and its effects on the Black community would be essential for any chance of rebuilding trust with the Black community. She also advocates putting money that would’ve gone towards policing these neighborhoods into providing them with essential services.

“We could reallocate some of the money we spend on policing to affordable housing, to access to fresh foods, to a more robust public transportation system, to mental health services, to so much more of what people need in west Louisville,” Scott told the Courier Journal, “rather than to continue to fund a system that was never designed for us and continues to act disproportionately toward us.”

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