Activists Say San Antonio Police Haven't Done Enough to Limit No-Knock Warrants and Chokeholds

Top cop William McManus told council's public safety committee the department has already limited use of no-knock warrants and chokeholds. - FACEBOOK / SAPD
Facebook / SAPD
Top cop William McManus told council's public safety committee the department has already limited use of no-knock warrants and chokeholds.
Black Lives Matter activists are calling out San Antonio Police Chief William McManus over his opposition to proposals city council will vote on in coming weeks that would eliminate police use of no-knock warrants and chokeholds.

On Tuesday, council’s public safety committee voted 4-1 to move the two proposals to consideration by the full council. During discussion, McManus cited circumstances where no-knock warrants and chokeholds might be appropriate and said the department has already limited their use.

“I just don’t understand what reality Chief McManus is living in,” said Valerie Reiffert, leader of Radical Registrars, an organization that works to increase voter registration. “I don’t think he truly has a grasp on what’s happening to the Black community.”

Reiffert cited the case of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot in Louisville, Kentucky, after officers used a no-knock warrant to access her home.

“If you are Caucasian, you usually make it out of that situation alive, you get to see your day in court,” Reiffert said. “It’s the Black people that aren’t making it out alive of traffic stops.”

The requests to ban no-knock warrants and chokeholds were brought forward by District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan, San Antonio’s sole Black city council member.

District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry, a member of the public safety committee, voted against the proposals.

“Violent crime is on the rise here in San Antonio, and I’m not willing to do that to our officers that are on the street protecting us on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

Meeting with the committee, McManus said no-knock warrant have been “completely off the table” for the department since June. However, he said they could be needed in limited circumstances, such as when a suspect threatens to set their house on fire or kill family members.

McManus added that SAPD limited its use of chokeholds starting in 2014. They’re now only employed in limited situations, such as where there’s an immediate threat to someone’s life.

Ananda Tomas, community organizer for police-reform group Fix SAPD, said she understands the chief’s position. However, she disagrees with his assertion that existing rules go far enough.

“The fact is that there’s a high proportion of no-knock warrants that are either served on false information or incorrect information, specifically for drug raids that end up being [at] a family’s home,” she said, “and those are often in the neighborhoods where suspected drug dealers are — and that’s where you find a higher proportion of your communities of color.”

Marlon Davis, a member of Black Futures Collective, said the committee’s actions are largely symbolic.

“A ban is one thing, but a more comprehensive method is to start talking about defunding the police,” he said. “The goal here is not to create a more humane version of the violence. It’s to stop the violence all together.”

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