You would think Breonna Taylor’s death would have seen no-knock warrants quickly banned nationwide and cops being more proactive about making sure they’re actually targeting the right places when using one. Yeah, nah. A retired corrections officer had her home raided last month by narcotics officers in the New York Police Department.
According to the New York Daily News, Debra Cottingham, 58, was home alone in the early morning hours of March 19 when she heard her screen door open and a battering ram begin to bang on her door. Before she could even get downstairs, the cops were at her bedroom door. They handcuffed her and made her wait downstairs while they searched the house.
“I said, ‘You’re dealing with me like it’s a crackhouse,’ and the officer said, ‘It is a crackhouse,’” Cottingham told the Daily News. ’’I never shook so much in my life. I was the only woman here. To watch all them men, officers, run through here, I was terrified.”
Cottingham legally owns two guns and told the Daily News she would’ve been within her rights to grab a gun to protect herself from an intruder. “What would have happened? I asked them that — nobody said anything. It could have been another Breonna Taylor situation,” Cottingham told the Daily News.
The cops were there to find her boyfriend’s 26-year-old son, who Cottingham said she hasn’t seen in nearly three years. She explained to the news outlet that she kicked him out of their home because he stole from her and he was involved with drugs and gang activity.
Before executing these no-knock warrants, cops are expected to do their due diligence in casing out the residence. They’re supposed to gather intel about who lives in the home, what firearms training they have, and there also needs to be credible evidence that criminal activity is occuring in the home.
Clearly, these cops didn’t do any of that because if they had they would’ve realized that ol’ boy hadn’t been in Cottingham’s home for years, and that Cottingham herself is a retired city corrections officer who briefly worked with the NYPD.
The Daily News tried to contact Novonil Chowdhury, the officer who obtained the warrant, and Detective Sekou Bourne about the raid but received no response. The NYPD has also not spoken on the warrant.
From the New York Daily News:
Bourne has been the subject of 21 complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, with the watchdog agency substantiating nine of the 42 total allegations of wrongdoing in those complaints. He lost 15 days in one excessive force case and 15 more in a case for which he was found guilty of an improper stop-and-frisk and house search, as well as abuse of authority.
Bourne is also named in 10 lawsuits from civilians against the city and NYPD, one pending plus nine that have settled for a total of $440,000.
Cottingham has filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs Bureau and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
A bill was introduced in the New York state legislature last year that would severely limit no-knock warrants to only being used for violent criminals and terrorists; banning them from use in drug cases. Clearly, they need to get on passing that sooner rather than later because this situation is disturbingly similar to what happened with Taylor. Cottingham told the news outlet that she has been jumpy since the raid and has continually had flashbacks.
“This right here is supposed to be my safe haven,” she told the news outlet. “Your home is your space.”