What to know about no-knock warrants

(Washington Post illustration; iStock)

No-knock raids, considered one of the most dangerous and intrusive policing tactics, have been at the center of a debate in recent years over police use of force.

Criminal justice experts estimate that police carry out tens of thousands of no-knock raids every year in the United States. Those who defend the tactic say that the majority of the raids do not lead to injuries and likely prevent violence and preserve evidence that otherwise would have been destroyed. But critics say that the risks outweigh the benefits and are often not worth the amount of drugs recovered.

Generally, state agencies do not monitor the use of no-knock warrants, and federal agencies do not track the number of people killed or wounded in the raids.

But, according to a Washington Post investigation, at least 22 people have been killed since 2015, including Amir Locke and Breonna Taylor, while police carried out no-knock search warrants. Minneapolis police were looking for others implicated in a homicide investigation and carrying out a no-knock search warrant when they killed Amir Locke in February. Louisville police killed Breonna Taylor in 2020 during a drug investigation involving her ex-boyfriend. Officers later claimed they knocked and announced themselves.

Broken Doors: A six-part investigative podcast about how no-knock warrants are deployed in the American justice system

The Post obtained evidence logs and other documents for 13 of the fatal raids: In 12, officers recovered less than three pounds of illegal drugs combined — including marijuana, heroin and mushrooms.