Tennessee senator looking to make legislative changes in wake of Breonna Taylor decision

Tennessee senator looking to make legislative changes in wake of Breonna Taylor decision

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The case of Breonna Taylor has brought many conversations to the forefront including what the charge of wanton endangerment means. One Tennessee senator is taking those conversations and hoping to make legislative changes happen.

“People should be able to be safe in their house, and if a warrant is issued an office will identify themselves,” Sen. Raumesh Akbari said.

Sen. Akbari from Memphis wants one of her first actions of the upcoming legislative session to be in honor of Breonna Taylor. She’s looking to file a bill banning no-knock warrants in Tennessee.

“With all pieces of legislation I work on I’m going to consult those who are affected by it, including law enforcement, because we want to make sure we have the best policy. Because even if something looks good on paper it may not be good in implementation,” Akbari said.

No-knock search warrants are one of many conversations sparked by Taylor’s death. It was first reported the officers involved in Taylor’s death executed a no-knock warrant at her home the night she died -- meaning they did not knock of identify themselves before going inside. Since, Kentucky’s Attorney General says the officers did knock.

“Regardless it did bring to the forefront and started a conversation on no knock warrants because folks who are not involved in the law enforcement system were not even aware of them,” Akbari said.

Hopes of legislative change sparked by Breonna Taylor case

“I can’t remember the last time Memphis police served a no-knock warrant,” Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said.

Rallings said of more than 740 search warrants executed by MPD since 2018 not one has been a no knock warrant. In June, the department banned no knock search warrants.

“With the tragedy in Louisville we wanted to do something more,” Rallings said.

Other departments have done similar things. Louisville banned them after Taylor’s death. Oregon is the only state to ban those types of search warrants statewide.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said it’s reviewing a lot of its policies including no knock warrants.

A grand jury indicted one of three officers at Taylor’s apartment the night she died on three counts of wanton endangerment. U of M Law Professor Steve Mulroy said many in Tennessee may not have heard that term before, but they’ve heard of things like it.

“Every state has some form of reckless endangerment,” Mulroy said. “They may call it wanton or reckless. Tennessee has a reckless endangerment statue.”

Mulroy said a reckless endangerment statute means having an extreme indifference to human life.

The grand jury indicted former officer Brett Hankison with the charges because he fired through a glass door without a clear line of sight and bullets went through neighboring apartments.

“If you do it by shooting into someone’s home like in this case that would be a class D felony,” Mulroy said.

Mulroy said in Kentucky a wanton endangerment charge could mean between one and five years in prison.

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