The Breonna Taylor decision and five times police have botched warrants in Philly

The police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville began with a routine search warrant gone tragically wrong. Philly is no stranger to similar tragedies.

Protesters raise their hands as they march over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. Breonna Taylor, a black woman, was fatally shot by police in her home in March.  (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Protesters raise their hands as they march over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. Breonna Taylor, a black woman, was fatally shot by police in her home in March. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Outrage over the police killing of Breonna Taylor flared Wednesday after a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against the Louisville officers for fatally shooting the 26-year-old inside her apartment on March 13.

Protesters took to the streets in Philadelphia and cities across the country to decry the panel’s decision, but also what precipitated Taylor’s death: an attempt by police to execute a “no-knock” search warrant.

Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by officers who entered her home during a narcotics investigation. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend was a primary target of that investigation. After police used a battering ram to break down Taylor’s front door, her current boyfriend fired a shot at the door, thinking it was a home invasion. Three officers fired back, striking Taylor six times. Less than two hours after her death, officers returned to her apartment with another search warrant, and found no drugs.

The use of no-knock warrants has since been banned by Louisville’s Metro Council, but the deadly incident highlights the danger that often comes with executing warrants — in Kentucky and elsewhere.

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Warrants executed in Philadelphia have often resulted in police and residents being shot and, in some cases, killed. Here’s a look at five times this happened.

North Philly standoff began with botched warrant service

The most dramatic recent example is last summer’s police standoff in North Philadelphia.

On Aug. 14, 2019, officers took fire from a gunman holed up inside a rowhome in the Nicetown section of the city for more than seven hours. The standoff — which sent six officers to the hospital with bullet wounds and traumatized residents on a close-knit block — was triggered by a botched warrant service tied to an unspecified state drug investigation.

Narcotics officers traveled to the 3700 block of North 15th Street that afternoon to execute a search warrant at a property a couple doors away from the home where Maurice Hill, the alleged gunman, was.

Hill was not the target of the investigation, but police allegedly spotted someone moving a black bag between the two houses, and a sergeant sent officers over to secure the second property, according to testimony. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported police were to wait for a search warrant for the address. It remains unclear if police properly executed the warrant or how much planning they did before ramming down Hill’s door.

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As the narcotics officers spread out inside the home, then-36-year-old Hill began firing through the house and out the window to the street with an AR-15.

‘An all-out absolute tragedy’

Just over a year before the Nicetown standoff, on Aug. 6, 2018, police shot and killed Ricardo Giddings after the 59-year-old grandfather reportedly mistook SWAT officers for home intruders and opened fire, striking one of them in the jaw.

The deadly shootout in Germantown, which also injured Giddings’ wife Joann, was precipitated by a search warrant officers were serving for Giddings’ 20-year-old grandson, who was wanted on a weapons violation.

The search was connected to a social media post that allegedly showed the young man with a handgun, according to NBC10.

The arriving officers knocked on the door of Giddings’ home on the 4800 block of Knox Street, announced their presence at least three times, and indicated they had a warrant before trying to enter the home, said then-Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

Officers entered the front door into a vestibule, but were met with gunfire as they made their way into the home.

Giddings fired four shots. Officers shot back, striking him in the chest and legs.

No criminal charges were filed in the case. The only weapon police found on Knox Street belonged to Giddings.

“The simplest way to put this is this is an all-out absolute tragedy,” Ross said at a news conference after the incident.

“He went about the business of protecting his home not knowing it was the police at the door that he was firing upon.”

“We just want answers. We want to figure out what went wrong here. My dad is dead and my mom is in the hospital fighting for her life,” Laquisha Johnson, Giddings’ stepdaughter told CBS3.

Ross said at the time he was not sure what officers could have done differently.

Philly officer fatally shot the same day as Breonna Taylor

Just a few hours after Louisville police shot Taylor on March 13, Philadelphia Cpl. James O’Connor was killed while his SWAT team was trying to arrest a murder suspect in the Frankford section of the city.

Prosecutors say 22-year-old Hassan Elliott, wanted for a March 2019 murder, fired more than 20 shots at O’Connor’s unit through the closed door of a second-floor bedroom on the 1600 block of Bridge Street.

Officers breached the front door and immediately took fire as they began ascending a staircase to the second floor.

O’Connor, 46, a 23-year-veteran on the force, was shot near his left shoulder blade and left forearm. He was pronounced dead at Temple University Hospital just after 6 a.m. that day.

Police recovered 10 guns from the bedroom Elliott shot at police from, including the assault rifle used to kill O’Connor.

Police sergeant fatally shot

O’Connor is one of at least two Philadelphia police officers who have been killed during the execution of search warrants since 2000.

Sixteen years ago, on March 19, 2004, Philadelphia Police Sgt. Joseph LeClaire was fatally shot while he and two other officers attempted to serve a warrant on a suspect wanted for failing to appear in court.

Shooting suspect fires on two SWAT officers

On Dec. 22, 2010, two SWAT officers were shot in the Summerdale section of the city while serving an arrest warrant for a shooting suspect.

Police got a tip that Nasuil “Nas” Martinez, who allegedly shot an officer during a foot chase in North Philadelphia, was in a rowhouse on Sanger Street, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Then-Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said officers swarmed the home around 4:30 a.m. and chased Martinez into the basement. Martinez then started shooting, striking the two officers, who had returned fire.

A three-hour standoff ensued after Martinez holed up in the basement. He surrendered to police around 7:30 a.m.

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