Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed legislation that includes a ban on no-knock warrants, making the commonwealth the third state-level jurisdiction to do so.
Florida, Oregon, and at least 13 local governments or police departments across the country have either banned the warrants or restricted their use. No-knock warrants allow law enforcement officials to enter a residence forcibly without having to announce their purpose or identifying themselves as police.
“These new laws represent a tremendous step forward in rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve," Northam, a Democrat, said in a statement. "I am grateful to the legislators and advocates who have worked so hard to make this change happen. Virginia is better, more just, and more equitable with these laws on our books."
The House bill (HB 5099) "prohibits law enforcement officers from seeking or executing a no-knock search warrant." The same measure also requires that all search warrants be issued for daylight hours unless otherwise approved by a judge for early morning or nighttime.
Locke said on Oct. 28, "These are transformative bills that will make Virginians’ lives better, and I’m so proud to see them signed into law."
Other legislation incorporated under the Virginia SB 5030 included a bill that would limit when law enforcement officers can use neck restraints, and a bill that "strengthens the process by which law enforcement officers can be decertified."
Locke added that the deaths of Breonna Taylor and other black Americans "woke Americans to a longstanding problem that has existed for generations—and we know Virginia is not immune."
Louisville Metro Detective Brett Hankison, Sgt. Jon Mattingly, and Detective Myles Cosgrove served the warrant. Because no one responded when they knocked and announced themselves, they breached the door. Mattingly, the only officer who entered the apartment during the incident, found a male and a female standing next to each other at the end of the hall.
The male was standing in a shooting stance and holding a gun. Mattingly saw the gun go off and knew he was shot after feeling heat in his thigh, Cameron told a press conference on Sept. 23. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, admitted to firing the shot that hit Mattingly.
The officers subsequently returned fire, shooting a total of 16 times. Six of the bullets struck Taylor, an emergency medical technician, Cameron said. FBI ballistics testing showed the fatal shot was fired by Cosgrove, although other ballistics testing was inconclusive.
The investigation found that both Mattingly and Cosgrove “were justified in their use of force,” the attorney general said. “This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Ms. Breonna Taylor’s death.”
The counts stemmed from the jury’s belief that the officer had put residents in a neighboring apartment in danger of serious physical injury or death. Hankison faces 15 years imprisonment if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mattingly, Cosgrove, and Joshua Jaynes—a detective who obtained the warrant—are still with the force, but were reassigned following the shooting.