“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Martin Luther King
In a crowded council chamber, Killeen resident Jumeka Reed used the famous quote to open her speech against no-knock warrants, which authorize police officers to enter certain premises without first knocking and announcing their presence.
Reed knows all too well about no-knocks. Her brother, James Scott Reed died when the Killeen Police Department served a no-knock warrant at his home in February 2019.
“No-knock warrants are a risky and dangerous situation,” Reed said. “It’s also an infringement of citizens’ rights.”
Reed is one of the four residents who asked city officials Tuesday to consider ending no-knock warrants. She was in attendance with her mother, Dianne Reed Bright. Bright did not speak on Tuesday.
Recently, the Killeen Police Department released its latest reform to include placing a 90-day hold on no-knocks along with compiling a committee “to formulate a community response/policy for service of no knock warrants,” according to Police Chief Charles Kimble. There are exceptions to the hold on no-knock warrants: a situation in which a person’s life is in danger and/or a person is being held against his/her will; an incident that involves removal and detonation of explosive devices; or if it is requested by federal agencies in regards to national security.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Jonathan Hildner, co-founder of the Let’s Move Killeen, told the council “it is extremely important that we consider refining reform, getting rid of no-knocks.”
“I think that anybody that understands and believes in the judicial system should know that during a no-knock warrant; we lost lives on both sides and our police officers shouldn’t be put in positions where they are ending somebody’s life before they get their day in court.”
U.S. Army veteran and 12-year Killeen resident Mary Gadson said she is against use of the no-knock warrant.
“I am in agreement that a serious review is necessary,” Gadson said. “And that the results demonstrate a process to the community of concern, accountability and transparency because misuse of power can corrupt. And absolute power can destroy.”
Ken Wilkerson is among more than a dozen candidates running for an at-large seat on the Killeen City Council. He was the last to speak during the citizen petition.
“I’ve had the chance to talk to several officers here in Killeen and other law enforcement officers across the state. And we talked about the pros and cons of no-knock warrants,” Wilkerson said. “Of course, we want to bring assailants to justice. However, that extraordinary benefit is not worth the lives of the assailant, innocent bystanders — particularly our police.”
Locally, no-knocks have turned deadly in at least two cases. In 2014, Killeen Detective Charles “Chuck” Dinwiddie was fatally shot during a no-knock warrant arrest. Five years later, 40-year-old Reed was killed by a single bullet during a no-knock narcotics raid at his home. Reed’s family is suing the city of Killeen and four KPD officers in that case, and want authorities to reopen a criminal investigation on the officers involved.
Kimble was in the audience during the citizen petition portion of the meeting Tuesday and listened to all four residents.
“I feel good and I feel positive about the community’s input and energy around no-knock warrants. I feel even more confident that a community wide solution is close at hand,” Kimble told the Herald after they spoke on Tuesday. “I look forward to working with everybody. In the council meeting tonight, I heard interest from the public in serving on the committee, but unfortunately, I can’t select everyone — but there will be a good cross-section representing the community. You pick fruit, you select people.”