RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Ralph Northam signed “Breonna’s Law” on Monday which will ban unannounced, no-knock warrants in Virginia.
Northam ceremoniously signed HB 5099 in the Patrick Henry Building beside Breonna Taylor’s family.
“Today we are taking a step forward to making sure other families don't suffer the same loss as your family,” Northam said.
Sponsored by Delegate Lashrecse Aird (D-Petersburg) and Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), the law prohibits the use of no-knock search warrants in the Commonwealth.
“Virginia is not immune to injustice,” Sen. Locke explained. “It could also happen here in Virginia.”
Virginia became the third state in the country to ban this police tactic and the first state to do so since the tragic death of Breonna Taylor.
Taylor, 26, was killed in March during the execution of a no-knock search warrant in her Louisville, Kentucky home. The officers said they announced themselves, but Taylor’s boyfriend said he didn’t hear them and though an intruder was breaking down the door.
Dr. Aird said the bill’s signing was validation for the leaders and advocates that took to the streets to protest following Taylor’s death.
“As a young woman, as a black woman, as a mom of two young boys, the decision to patron House Bill 5099 was deeply personal to me,” Aird stated.
Dr. Janice Underwood, Northam’s Chief Diversity Officer, said the tactic is “an instructional mechanism that disproportionately terrorizes people of color.” She said Virginia is getting it right.
Taylor’s aunts Bianca Austin and Tahasha Holloway, traveled to Richmond for the signing.
“Hopefully Kentucky can step up to the plate and follow what Virginia is doing here,” Austin stated.
The aunts wore shirts that said, “#NoMoreNoKnockWarrants” and masks with Taylor’s face on them.
“Let’s not forget Breonna Taylor still needs justice,” Austin explained. “Keep the fight going. Let’s make real change in America. Let’s start humanizing each other again. Let’s get on the right side of justice.”
No one has been charged directly for Taylor’s death.
Civil rights advocate and attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Taylor family, said we must stand up for all of our children.
Crump, has also represented the families of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, and Jacob Blake.
In a statement, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) said several proposals they’ve made to lawmakers regarding the new law have been ignored.
“While we continue to disagree with the elimination of this tactic in all circumstances, we remain critically concerned regarding additional changes made in this bill which will place our law enforcement officers and our community in significantly greater danger,” wrote VACP President Chief Maggie DeBoard.
VACP said there are conditions such as nighttime restrictions and reading the entire warrant at service that create dangerous delays in the warrant process. The organization planned to reintroduce certain amendments to the bill during the 2021 General Assembly session.
In October, Northam formally signed “Breonna’s Law,” which is part of an omnibus of police reform legislation passed during the General Assembly’s recent special session.