The dangers of no-knock warrants

Source: The Daily Sheeple

Kathryn Johnson, Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, and David Hooks and their respective families all have a common bond here in Georgia, no knock warrants.  Phonesavanh is still alive, although he faces a life of challenges due to injuries he received in Habersham County.  Johnson and Hooks were not as lucky as both were killed by the police during the raids in their homes in Fulton and Laurens County respectively.  Both Johnson and Hooks armed themselves, likely thinking their houses were being broken into by criminals.

Kathryn Johnson’s raid brought light to the issue of no knock warrants years ago.  In her case, officers were convicted of planting and fabricating evidence to obtain the warrant and justify the raid.  In that case, a confidential informant reportedly gave erroneous information about buying drugs from her home.  The raid on David Hooks home was also the result of bad information.  A burglar was caught in a vehicle that he stole from Hooks and was in possession of meth.  He claimed the meth came from Hooks’ vehicle, and the warrant was served the same day.

There is a time and place for warrants to be served, and there may even be cases where a no-knock warrant is applicable.  That said, with great power comes great responsibility.

When Georgians can’t feel safe and secure in their own homes, they depend on the police to provide that security.  Who provides the security when the people fear the police?

I’ve had an experience with the police knocking on my door late at night.  It began with my oldest child coming into the bedroom and telling my wife that she saw a light in her room.  I didn’t pay much attention at first thinking she was seeing the light from cars going up the street or something.

When I sat up in bed to talk to her, I saw a beam from a flashlight hitting my bedroom door.  My bedroom is upstairs, but the doorway is right above the front door with an open foyer and balcony separating the two.  It actually looked like someone was inside the house with a flashlight, so I grabbed my gun and told my wife to get the girls and hide.

When I started walking towards my door to peek over the balcony, they started banging on the door.  At this time, I still had no idea of who it was, and for all I knew, it was someone casing out my house to break in.

I stood near the balcony so that I could see who was at the door without them seeing me.  As I eased up closer to the railing, the flashlight came back up towards my direction, and I could make out two people on either side of my front door.  Once they realized what was in my hand, they immediately put the light on their badges and announced who they were.

Now, had I exercised my right to defend my home while in fear for the safety of my family, I could have started a shootout like the OK Corral that night.  Instead, I used restraint to see what was actually going on before I did my John Rambo impression.  The situation turned out that they wanted to check my backyard for something allegedly tossed there by someone they had just arrested.  The item wasn’t there, and while we were searching, the detective acknowledged that he saw what I had in my hand.  He had the same desire as I had to avoid any issues, and he apologized for the manner in which they had arrived.

Experiencing that, I can not imagine the fear, chaos, and other emotions that would be set off in a no-knock raid.  If such a thing has to happen, then there should be ample assurances that the necessity is there, and the warrant is valid.  No person should ever have to worry about the police knocking down their door and losing their life over a warrant that was issued due to flawed or erroneous information.

The Fourth Amendment is supposed to ensure that we’re secure in our persons and homes, but only when that protection is upheld.  It wasn’t upheld for the three mentioned earlier, and unfortunately, they are not the only ones affected.  When those who we entrust to protect us are in fact harming us, who do we turn to for protection?

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6 thoughts on “The dangers of no-knock warrants

  1. As long as warrants are issued by flawed humans, there will be flaws in the process. Mistakes will be made, either in the issuance or the execution of the warrant (or both). 😦

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    • That may very well be the case. However, those mistakes can be and should be mitigated to the least amount possible. I think there’s still room to lower the number of mistakes without jeopardizing policing activities.

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  2. The more I think about it, the more I think it’s way past time to end the drug war. It has done little if anything to lower the incidence of drug use. It stymies efforts that might save the lives of drug users — treatment, clean needles, education about safe doses. It has long since stopped being a war against drugs and has become a war against immigrants, minorities, and the underclass. No-knock warrants, civil asset forfeitures and mandatory minimums are government abuses that wouldn’t be tolerated if used against the elite, but are popular (especially with the right wing) in their current forms. I think the drug war harms us much more than it helps us.

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    • If we sentenced users to rehab instead of simply locking them up, we could probably lower the rate of drug usage in America. Some people have those predispositions to addictive behavior, so there will be some who won’t respond to rehab.

      We still have to combat drugs, but the focus should be on those who have the means and ability to smuggle them into the country. Busting the end-of-the-chain seller doesn’t stop the flow of drugs. It only moves the end source from one guy to the next. We won’t see that happen though because money talks and BS walks in America.

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  3. Back in the 80’s or maybe the early 90’s, there was a similar situation in Gainesville where they barged in on an elderly man and killed him, when they were supposed to be at the house next door.

    There’s always exceptions but I think it would better to serve as many warrants as possible in the day time and whatever happened to surrounding a house? All you have to do is wait them out; they have to come out sometime. I think they need to be damn sure that the person they are after is actually in the house and that there aren’t kids, etc, who can be collateral damage.

    As for drugs, I’m not for legalizing them. City and suburban folks haven’t had to live among the meth-heads like we have for 20 odd years. Well over 90% of our crime is them stealing to buy their dope, which wouldn’t change if it was legal because the can’t hold a job, so they’d still have to steal. I just went through another situation with this and it gets pretty damn tiring after a while, and then when they go to court, they don’t shit to them. (I can’t really say as I’ve ever had a pleasant experience with the law).

    And if I were to find myself in Kathryn Johnston’s shoes or David Hooks’ shoes, you’d probably be reading about me because if anybody tried to kick their way into my house, I’d be blasting away. You only get one chance at it, in a situation like that and I’d intend to be the one left standing.

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    • I wasn’t here back then, so that one doesn’t ring any bells. I try to read up on the investigations into these raids as much as I can. They should be used as learning tools to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. When police take the words of an admitted thief and drug user as fact, there should be triple and quadruple checking before acting on that information. I wouldn’t trust the source, especially given the situations of the more recent cases.

      I’m with you on someone kicking in my door. I don’t think there would be time to stop and consider whether it’s the police serving a warrant or if it’s a robbing crew making their presence known. At the point of the door being kicked in, instinct and adrenaline will rule the day here. I’d think that any person would go into fight or flight mode, and react accordingly.

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