Salisbury, N.C., (Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017) – The Salisbury City Council has received correspondence from the North Carolina Attorney General’s office that states the local elected body cannot restrict the use of immediate entry warrants, also known as “no knock” warrants, beyond the restrictions that state and federal law already provide.
The Salisbury City Council sought advice from the N.C. Attorney General’s office in January following increasingly vocal concerns about the Salisbury Police Department’s use of the warrant service. Members of the community previously asked city council to instruct the city manager to direct the Salisbury police chief to suspend the warrant’s use after the death of Ferguson Laurent, Jr. Laurent was shot and killed during service of an immediate entry warrant for the property in which he was present.
Citing Richards v. Wisconsin, 520 U.S. 385 (1997), and United States v. Singleton 441 3rd. 290, 294 (4th Cir. 2006), the Advisory Letter maintains that “the Supreme Court has recognized that no-knock entries may be justified by certain exigent circumstance, such as a reasonable suspicion by officers that knocking and announcing would be futile, that a threat of violence exists or that identification would inhibit their investigation such as by potential destruction of evidence.”
The Advisory Letter, which has not been reviewed or adopted as an opinion of the Attorney General, also states that the N.C. General Assembly has “codified an exception to the notice requirement, which applies when the officer has probable cause to believe that the giving of notice would endanger the life or safety of any person.” N.C.G.S. § 15A-251(2). For questions specific to the Attorney General Office’s Advisory letter, please contact Laura Brewer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Given the advice provided to the Salisbury City Council, the issue will not be addressed by the local elected body.