Family of Breonna Taylor stands with Gov. Northam as he signs law banning no-knock warrant

Posted at 4:13 PM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 07:48:03-05

NORFOLK, Va. – From the streets of Norfolk to the state capitol in Richmond, the call for change was heard, and the Breonna Taylor Law is here.

“We are taking a step forward to make sure other families don’t suffer the same loss,” said Gov. Ralph Northam.

In March, Taylor, a health care worker in Louisville, Kentucky, was fatally shot by police in her home while a “no-knock” warrant was being served.

"We can't have this continue to happen to African American women and men,” said State Senator Mamie Locke.

Taylor's two aunts from Louisville, Del. Lashrecse Aird and Sen. Locke joined Gov. Northam to sign the legislation they sponsored.

In Virginia, judges and magistrates can no longer issue a no-knock warrant. According to Northam's office, the Commonwealth is the third state to ban this practice and the first state to do so since Taylor's death.

"There have been a couple of cases years ago where sometimes the officers make the mistake and go to the wrong house and they don't announce [themselves], and the residents return fire and it's a bad situation,” says Richard James.

James spent almost 30 years as an officer and detective with the Norfolk Police Department, and he is the former department head for criminal justice and forensic science at Tidewater Community College.

James says this new law protects citizens.

"It also lets a person know who is woken up in a slumber that it is not someone breaking into the house,” he adds.

It also protects officers as well, but James says it can be a challenge for police now when they are trying to protect themselves from an actual threat.

"[They are going to need to ]make sure they have additional steps to make sure they are safe, and it's going to take some practice and training,” James adds.

Gaylene Kanoyton is the political action chair for the state conference NAACP. They’ve been advocating for police reform, and the no-knock warrant was at the top of their list.

"As Sen. Locke said, why do we have to wait for someone dies to be proactive?” adds Kanoyton.

She says the work doesn’t end here.

“That feels great, but we still have a long way to go,” she adds.

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