Sarah Van Buskirk
Pomona has become one of a growing number of cities and states across the U.S. to ban police from enacting no-knock warrants, following a unanimous vote last month by the City Council to ban the practice.
“We believe there should be an absolute ban on no-knock warrants,” said Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval during the Feb. 1 City Council meeting held via Zoom.
Sandoval said the new ordinance will be known as Breonna’s Law.
Exactly one year ago, on March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor’s life was taken due to a no-knock warrant raid of her Louisville home. Taylor was an accidental victim of this controversial police practice.
Numerous Pomona community members logged in to the meeting to support the proposed no-knock warrant ban.
Some shared personal experiences.
Lisa Engdahl, a longtime Pomona resident, said her next-door neighbors, an elderly couple, were mistakenly raided by police via a no-knock warrant.
“During the raid, the older gentleman next door to us started to go into shock, and his wife asked the police if she could take him outside or give him food, but they would not respond to her distress.” Engdahl said.
Months later another raid happened in Engdahl’s neighborhood, she told the council. Again, the police falsely located a no-knock warrant to that house, putting children at risk, Engdahl said. A flash grenade was thrown into the living room of her neighbors’ house, where the couple’s granddaughters, ages 2 and 5, were sleeping in that same room, Engdahl said, adding the children were not harmed.
“In situations where flash grenades have hit children, they have been severely burned.” Engdahl added.
“We (need) safer methods to be able to execute these because they are dangerous to all parties involved.” said Pomona City Council member Victor Preciado at the February meeting.
Preciado said he hopes the Council members and the community can build from this and find practices they can improve on.
Pomona Police Chief Michael Ellis said this week that he had hoped for a different option – to ban the warrants unless there was an extreme situation, vs. a complete ban on no-knock warrants. But Ellis added that his department respects and abides by the new ordinance.
“We changed the policy the next morning, it was done immediately” Ellis said.
Sarah Van Buskirk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.