Rep. LaKeshia Myers introduced “Breonna’s Law” to the Wisconsin state legislature Monday in order to ban no-knock police search warrants.
The bill is named after Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was wrongly killed by officers in her Louisville apartment in March of 2020 after an attempted drug sting by officers went wrong. This law has been enacted in only three other states: Virginia, Oregon and Florida.
“While Taylor was not the subject of the warrant, her life was mercilessly ended through no fault of her own,” Rep. Myers said in a statement. “It is because of this that we call on Wisconsin legislators to end the use of no-knock warrants.”
Breonna’s Law appears to have bipartisan backing nationwide, according to a June Morning Consult poll. Breonna’s Law was passed in Louisville by an unanimous 26-0 vote in early June 2020. According to Myers press release, legal scholars have found that no-knock warrants remain more prevalent in Wisconsin than any other state.
Rep. Myers made it clear that while banning such warrants would protect citizens, it would also protect police officers. She specifically mentioned Milwaukee officer Matthew Rittner, who was killed while performing a no-knock warrant as part of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Tactical Enforcement Unit in 2019.
Wisconsin has a decades-old history with no-knock warrants. In Richards v. Wisconsin (1997), the United States Supreme Court set the precedent that officers are allowed to use these warrants under circumstances where it is believed that announcing police presence would be “dangerous, futile, or result in the destruction of evidence.”
While state legislators in Kentucky are yet to join Louisville in banning the warrants, in June, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act. If approved, it would outlaw no-knock warrants on a federal level. However it’s uncertain when the bill will be taken up in the Wisconsin legislature, who have been historically inactive since the pandemic began — which may signal an uphill battle for Myers going forward.