ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal said Thursday that he’s open to discussing whether legislative changes are necessary regarding “no-knock” warrants, but first he wants to see the results of an investigation into a case involving a toddler hurt in a police raid.
There was a bipartisan effort by lawmakers in 2007 to tighten rules for such warrants, which are intended to protect officers from dangerous suspects while preventing evidence tampering. The effort, which failed, was prompted by a 2006 case in which an elderly Atlanta woman was killed in a shootout with police while they were executing a “no-knock” warrant at her home.
“It would be one of those things that I would be open to if there is sufficient evidence to indicate that it needs to be revisited and more appropriate standards and requirements put in place,” Deal said. He said he would want to make sure the law enforcement community was involved in any discussion talks on the issue.
Deal also said the issue might be something he refers to his Criminal Justice Reform Council for review. He cautioned that he first wants to hear the results of an investigation into the May 28 police raid in which 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh was severely injured by a flash grenade that landed in his playpen at home in Cornelia. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case, and the boy’s family has asked for a federal inquiry.
“Sometimes legislative bodies react too quickly without looking at the broader consequences of what legislative action might be,” Deal said. “But on the same token, if the standards and the requirements are not appropriate, then they should be adjusted accordingly.”
Deal’s Democratic challenger, state Sen. Jason Carter of Atlanta, said in a statement that the dangers of “no-knock” warrants have been known and reiterated his support for limiting them.
“This incident in Cornelia is a heartbreaking example of what can happen, and we need to do everything we can to prevent anything like it from happening again,” Carter said.