For many years, civil libertarians have complained about the increase in “no knock”warrants, particularly after the decision in 2006 by the Supreme Court in Hudson v. Michigan. Now, it appears that no knocks have collided with another trend: castle doctrines or “make my day” laws allowing homeowners to defend their homes with lethal force. When Tracy Ingle in North Little Rock heard someone coming through his window, that is precisely what he did. He grabbed his legal handgun and pointed it at the window. A shot immediately ran out, severing most of one leg. After he fell from the bed, he was hit by four more shots from police — who later charged Ingle with assaulting them, even though he had not fired a single shot.
Ingle had a long interaction with the police, but never a crime a violence. The police had secured a no knock warrant weeks earlier on probable cause of a drug operation. They would find no drugs — only a scale and baggies claimed by others.
The raid on January 7, 2008 could now raise a fascinating question of whether an individual in a castle doctrine state is assaulting an office when acting under such a law — absent proof that he knew these were officers. The case may also focus attention on no knocks, particularly when they are issued weeks earlier to get stale. The Ingle family also alleges that he was interrogated at the hospital without counsel and that his medications were denied to him.
The Supreme Court first addressed no-knock warrants in Richards v. Wisconsin, 520 U.S. 385 (1997), where it rejected a blanket exception for all drug cases to the “knock and announce” requirements under the Fourth Amendment. In another Arkansas case, Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 927 (1995), the Supreme Court has held that officers must knock and announce to give citizens warning that they are officers. One of the reasons often cited is to prevent accidental shootings by citizens, who may feel a break in.
In Hudson, a 5-4 decision, the Court refused to apply the exclusionary rule to evidence gathered in violation of the “knock and announce” requirement. In his opinion, Justice Scalia that the “social cost” was too high to exclude such evidence. That decision effectively destroyed any meaningful deterrent for abuses of no knock searches.
For the full story, click here