The Killeen City Council voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance banning the Killeen Police Department from using or participating in no-knock warrants.
The decision was made by a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Steve Harris voting against.
Prior to the vote, Councilwoman Debbie Nash-King spoke on no-knock warrants.
“The most important thing is safety,” Nash-King said. She added that she knows that Police Chief Charles Kimble works to put the safety of the department’s police officers first as well as the safety of the residents of Killeen.
After that comment, she moved to approve the ordinance removing no-knock warrants.
Harris gave a statement to the public saying that this decision should go to the people of Killeen and not necessarily be decided by the council.
He said that a lot of the responses he saw on Facebook from residents was that people wanted to see this decision go on a ballot.
“I will vote for the citizens to do the trailblazing. To deny the citizens their right to decide would be exercising political will as opposed to the citizens will,” Harris said.
He added that if the council makes the decision, the council can change it in a few years but if it is put on the ballot, the citizens would decide.
Councilwoman Melissa Brown responded to what Harris said.
“I fully admit that I am the councilmember that is being talked about and I am proud to be that councilmember,” Brown said.
She said that she has heard from thousands of residents over the years and that is what has influenced her decision.
This is not a spur of the moment, knee-jerk reaction,” Brown said.
Councilman Terry Clark said that one life lost is one life too many and said that he will be supporting the removal of no-knock warrants although it is a decision that he has struggled with for the last two weeks.
Mayor Pro Tem Shirley Fleming said the council has been trying to remove no-knock warrants for many years.
“We have good officers in Killeen, I know we do, but sometimes they get it wrong and we have been trying to get rid of these (no-knock warrants) for so long,” Fleming said. “Let’s all of us council members do the right thing.”
Councilman Ken Wilkerson said he has been talking to Killeen residents for years about this issue and that the council is elected to make decisions for the people of Killeen.
“Just because it’s a tough one, doesn’t mean we revert it back to them,” Wilkerson said.
Chief Kimble spoke after the meeting about the council’s decision.
“As a police chief and as someone who is aware of what is happening throughout the country, as we put our reform package up in 2019, we understood the tide that was turning throughout the United States,” Kimble said. “Our council showed a lot of bravery by continuing with reform and we will continue on this trend of police reform here in America, starting here in Killeen.”
He added that the department has not conducted a no-knock warrant since February and that they have found other ways to do their job and they will continue to do that.
Nick Bezzel, the founder and national chairman of the Elmer Geronimo Pratt Pistol & Rifle Gun Club of Central Texas, spoke during the public forum part of the meeting about no-knock warrants.
“I think you know why I’m here today and where I stand. You all on the council can be trailblazers in banning no-knock warrants … I’m asking you tonight when you vote on these no-knock warrants, I would vote for them to be banned completely,” Bezzel said.
Taneika Driver-Moultrie, the president of the Killeen Branch NAACP, spoke in favor of the ordinance eliminating the use of no-knock warrants.
“This ordinance … protects the safety of all parties and is a step in the right direction,” Driver-Moultrie said.
She added that the council should do the right thing in eliminating the use of no-knock warrants.
Jumeka Reed, the sister of 40-year-old James Scott Reed, who was killed by KPD SWAT Team during a no-knock warrant at his home, spoke during public forum.
“I’m not against the police, but I am all about reform,” Jumeka Reed said. She added that there needs to be a clearer description of the violent criminals that these warrants need to be used against because the police were told her brother had a gun but she is pretty sure most people have a gun in their home for protection.
Leo Gukeisen also spoke during the meeting, but he spoke in favor of no-knock warrants.
“I am here to say that I support the Killeen Police Department’s use of no-knock warrants,” Gukeisen said. “If this ordinance is passed, then what is next?”
He went on to say that the no-knock warrant still requires officers to announce their presence even though they do not have to knock on the door.
No-knock warrants — in which police don’t announce themselves before forcefully entering someone’s home in order to arrest the person — have come under fire in Killeen in recent years.
Usually done in pre-dawn hours, the no-knock warrants can catch a criminal when they least expect it.
Two people have died in Killeen raids, which sometimes include broken glass, explosives to blow off doors, and a lot of guns — mostly in the hands of police, but sometimes in the hands of the residents inside.
Marvin Guy, 56, is in Bell County Jail, accused of fatally shooting KPD Detective Charles “Chuck” Dinwiddie during a pre-dawn no-knock narcotics raid on Guy’s west Killeen residence. Dinwiddie and three other officers were shot on May 9, 2014, and Dinwiddie died in a hospital two days later.
Nearly five years after the police raid on Guy’s residence, 40-year-old James Scott Reed, was killed by a single bullet during a no-knock narcotics raid at his home on Feb. 27, 2019. The family has alleged that at least 22 rounds were fired by KPD SWAT team members during the raid and that while Reed was armed, he did not fire his handgun.
Guy is still awaiting trial in his case. Reed’s family has sued the city and the police department — a lawsuit that is still working its way through the court system.
Both cases — as well as national cases in the past year — have led to multiple discussions by the Killeen City Council about the issue.