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The practice of no-knock warrants has come under scrutiny following the Minneapolis police killing of Amir Locke. In West St. Paul, no-knock warrants are rare, though one came a few weeks ago in the arrest of a suspect from a December shooting.
West St. Paul Police Chief Brian Sturgeon called the death of Locke a “tragic situation,” but wouldn’t comment further on that specific case. Speaking of no-knock warrants in general, he said, “We do things completely different than Minneapolis. We need policies and procedures that work for our department.”
No-Knock Warrant in January
West St. Paul Police, with assistance from the South Metro SWAT Team, executed a no-knock warrant at 5 a.m. on January 27 at Eagle Point apartments. They arrested Joshua Dartavian-da Moore Gooden, who was later charged with second degree assault and attempted murder for the December 5 shooting at a Marathon gas station in West St. Paul.
The SWAT Team requested the no-knock warrant due to several factors, including the number of people thought to be present, the expectation of weapons, and the swarming crowd behavior that complicated the scene at the Marathon shooting.
Recent No-Knock Warrants in West St. Paul
Sturgeon said that was the only no-knock warrant the department had executed in the last five years, that anyone could recall. The department wasn’t required to track no-knock warrants until last year.
While that was the only warrant executed as a no-knock, the department did obtain others but didn’t use them. Sturgeon estimates they’ve received five such warrants in the past five years.
“They are a tool to obtain and use if the situation requires it,” Sturgeon said. He notes a rigorous evaluation process to determine if a no-knock warrant is necessary and then a constant reevaluation up until they go in.
Minneapolis restricted the use of no-knock warrants in 2020 after the killing of Breonna Taylor attracted national attention, but Minneapolis police still conducted 90 such warrants since the restriction, according to MPR. St. Paul hasn’t executed a no-knock warrant since 2016.
Future of No-Knock Warrants
As the debate over no-knock warrants continues, Minnesota lawmakers are considering restricting the practice across the state.
St. Thomas law professor Rachel Moran studies no-knock warrants and told MPR that nationwide 94 people were killed between 2010 and 2016 in no-knock warrants, including 13 police officers.
Sturgeon is opposed to a complete ban, but restrictions might be acceptable. “I’ve seen some exceptions proposed, and that would fall in line with what we do,” he said.
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