Franklin County Prosecutor Joins Efforts To Restrict No-Knock Warrants

Oct 16, 2020

No-knock warrants have gotten a lot of attention – most notably in the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in March during a shootout between her boyfriend and police in Louisville, Ky.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, A Republican, says he doesn’t want to ban them altogether, as some communities do. However, he and the prosecutors in Ohio’s biggest counties have drafted some reforms and stricter standards for no-knock warrants.  

Yost and prosecutors Michael O'Malley of Cuyahoga County, Ron O'Brien of Franklin County and Joe Deters of Hamilton County are suggesting requiring officers to announce themselves as soon as possible and to wear clearly-identifiable clothing and body cameras, which they must turnon.

Yost also said misdemeanor drug possession and paraphernalia charges would be insufficient for a no-knock warrant. He noted some cities are considering altogether eliminating these warrants, which are rare, but Yost said law enforcement needs the option.

“I don’t favor a ban because you cannot adequately foresee every possible instance where a waiver to the knock-and-announce requirement might be necessary to preserve life," Yost said.

Taylor's death looms large in this discussion, as communities have moved to restrict or eliminate these warrants. All three prosecutors are also up for reelection this fall – Deters and O'Brien are Republicans, like Yost, and face opponents in their races. O'Malley, a Democrat, is running unopposed.

“There’s a group of circumstances causing us to take a look at a statute that’s been on the books for a long time and that we can strengthen the controls, make everybody safer without taking away an essential tool for the law enforcement toolbox,” Yost said.

Yost also noted Ohio has been a castle doctrine state since 2008, meaning people can use deadly force to defend themselves in their homes.