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No-Knock Warrants: Are They Worth The Price of Innocent Lives?

Imagine being in your home with your doors locked, not expecting any visitors. As always, you are prepared to defend yourself and your property against intruders. Now imagine that those unannounced intruders are actually officers of the law. Police sent with the intent of collecting evidence of illegal activity. This happened to a Killeen, Texas man named Marvin Louis Guy in May of 2014.

Under the authority of a no-knock warrant, police officers stormed Guy’s home. It was 5:30 in the morning when a police officer crawled through his window. Since they had not announced their presence, Guy believed the man was a random home intruder and shot him. He killed the one officer and injured three others.

Guy was charged with capital murder and three counts of attempted capital murder. The charges carry the death penalty. His trial date is set for March 23, 2020.

No-knock warrants give legal authority to police officers to search a premise without announcing themselves before entering the property. The warrant is given if it is probable that the evidence being searched for can easily be destroyed or moved. Most commonly, the police are searching for illegal drugs in such raids, as they were in Guy’s case.

However, they found no evidence of any possession or distribution of illegal substances. The police recovered a 9MM pistol, walkie-talkies, three cellphones, a laptop, a safe, a glass pipe identified as drug paraphernalia, and a grinder.

Consider how common the first five items are: a pistol, walkie-talkies, cellphones, laptop, and a safe. Now consider that a glass pipe and grinder are not illegal and should not justify anyone forcing their way into your home without announcing themselves at the crack of dawn.

In certain situations, the no-knock warrant is helpful in catching a criminal by surprise. The New York Times spoke to a professor of criminal justice, who argues that it is ridiculous to abolish these much-needed policies all together.

However, the realities of such raids show that entering people’s homes without announcement carries dire responsibilities and costs. The Houston, Texas police department announced early in 2019 that they would end no-knock raids after the practice left officers shot and civilians killed.

“We’ve had four officers shot, two civilians killed, I don’t see the value in them [no-knock warrants]. So that’s probably going to go by the wayside.”-Houston Police Chief Art Arcevedo

That raid was not only dangerous, but come to find out, illegal – or at least highly questionable. The report that was submitted in order to get the no-knock warrant said that a police informant had bought drugs at the house and an officer claimed he had seen this. No informant ever recalled this story or remembered any drug trade happening at that home.

Back in Killeen, Guy has maintained that he did not know who was entering his home and he fired in self-defense. He has also warned about the danger of no-knock warrants:

“Any citizen should be concerned about these no-knock raids, even the people in Killeen should come together and say these raids do not work, they don’t have a good outcome,”-Marvin Louis Guy

One officer is dead, three were shot at, and one man faces death at the hands of the state of Texas. No-knock warrants put the lives of both officers and innocent civilians like Marvin Louis Guy at risk. Is it worth it?

 

You can sign a petition for Marvin Louis Guy here.

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