In the land of the free — thousands of times a year — American police officers kick in doors, smash windows, deploy tear gas, and explode flashbang grenades all to serve a single, often unarmed, individual with an arrest warrant. These militarized affronts on the homes and property of often entirely innocent individuals all too frequently end with the suffering of the innocent or loss of innocent life.
Recently, in only a matter of weeks, two different innocent people were killed by police during these raids. Despite the fact that the officers yelled “police” as they broke into the homes of Isaiah Tyree Williams and Amir Locke — both of who were asleep at the time of the raid — Williams and Locke were so startled that they defended themselves by grabbing a gun.
Because they defended themselves against armed agents of the state during a raid by said agents, their deaths were justified, and the officers who killed them, returned to duty — despite the fact that Locke and Williams had committed no crime and were not the subjects of the warrants.
Many people have rightfully argued that Locke and Williams were morally justified in grabbing the guns and even shooting and attempting to kill the armed intruders. And, if we remove the state’s ability to self-justify their own actions, those people are right.
Locke and Williams — as they had committed no crime — did not know their intruders were cops. What’s more, as the following example illustrates, even when the intruder is wearing a badge, they may not be a cop.
Last Sunday, police in Philadelphia were called to the home of a 25-year-old man who happened to kill a home invader who happened to be wearing a badge and claiming to be a cop.
As ABC 6 reports, two men forced their way into a young man’s home, pretending to be cops before taking him hostage, claiming to search his residence.
“They tied his hands with zip ties around his back and threatened to kill him if he made any sudden moves. That’s when our victim realized these individuals were not police officers,” said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small.
Luckily for the victim, he was able to get his hands free, grab his licensed concealed carry pistol, and kill the police impersonator before the impersonator killed him.
Had this 25-year-old man continued to believe his aggressors were cops, it could’ve proven fatal.
Therein lies the problem with no knock raids. Bad actors are essentially granted free reign in home invasions if they are able to acquire some police garb and a shiny badge. If innocent people simply “comply and wait to file a complaint later,” they could be killed.
This is why no knock raids — outside of a hostage situation — must be brought to an end immediately.
Yet still, across the country—largely due to the failed drug war—police conduct tens of thousands of no-knock raids a year.
Breonna Taylor was murdered during one of them. Countless others are beaten, terrorized, and killed as well, and just like Breonna, cops often act on bad information.
“In theory, no-knock raids are supposed to be used in only the most dangerous situations … In reality, though, no-knock raids are a common tactic, even in less-than-dangerous circumstances,” Vox wrote in an revealing investigation in 2015. Case in point, Breonna Taylor.
A whopping 79 percent of these raids — like the one used to murder Dennis and Rhogena Tuttle in Houston, TX in 2019 — are for search warrants only, mostly for drugs. Just seven percent of no-knock raids are for crisis situations like hostages, barricaded suspects, or active shooters, according to an investigation by the ACLU.
What’s more, the study by the ACLU found that in 36 percent of SWAT deployments for drug searches, and possibly in as many as 65 percent of such deployments, no contraband of any sort was found.
Not only do these raids appear to be mostly unproductive, but they are often carried out on entirely innocent people based on lies, wrong information, or corruption, laying waste to the rights—and lives—of unsuspecting men, women, children, and their pets.
As we’ve seen in the case of Roderick Talley, drug task forces routinely conspire together to raid the homes of innocent people as a means of justifying themselves.