A bill that would create a uniform policy of banning no-knock police raids statewide is advancing in the Texas Legislature.
Usually police would announce themselves before they bust in, but under a no-knock warrant they could enter someone’s home without warning, or knock the door down covertly. The proposed law comes after a no-knock warrant ended tragically in 2019 in Houston.
Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas were in their home on Harding Street in the East End District in January of 2019 when Houston Police executed a no knock raid based on what later was found to be false information. When Tuttle opened fire, police shot and killed him and Nicholas. Houston Police quickly ended no-knock warrants as a department, as did others, and now a bill to end them statewide has passed in the Texas House. Representative Gene Wu (D-Houston) says the legislation makes sense when you consider the state’s Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws.
“No-knock warrants are really dangerous, they’re just a bad policy,” Wu said. “There’s no reason that you can’t announce that it’s the police coming into your door in the middle of the night.”
Wu said this bill codifies what HPD has been doing, and Wu added that if no-knock warrants are necessary, officers must get permission from the police chief.
“Just like Harding Street. Once the homeowners thought that their doors were being kicked down by home invaders, they started firing and the police responded in kind, and we simply can’t have that,” Wu said.
Wu said either people will have the right to defend their homes, or police will have the right to come in unannounced. “Those two things cannot exist simultaneously.”
The bill now goes to the Texas Senate, and if approved would head to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk to be signed into law. Wu says there is wide bi-partisan support for the measure.
“A lot of police departments in the state also changed their policy to reflect this,” he said. “On the conservative side, people understand that you don’t really have a right to defend your home if you don’t know who is coming in.”
Matthew Thomas contributed to this report.