NC Attorney General’s opinion sought on city’s authority over no-knock warrants

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Staff report

SALISBURY — The Salisbury City Council has asked its attorney to seek the North Carolina attorney general’s advice about the council’s authority “to direct or suspend specific tactics utilized by the Police Department,” according to a news release from the city.

The request is in regards to the officer-involved shooting of Ferguson Laurent Jr. on Nov. 3.

A member of a Special Response Team shot the 22-year-old black man during the execution of a no-knock warrant on Lafayette Street.

Since then, local residents have asked the City Council to ban the Salisbury Police Department’s use of no-knock warrants. More than 30 people spoke about the shooting during the City Council meeting after the shooting. Al Heggins, representing the group Women for Community Justice, presented a petition to ban the use of no-knock warrants. More people have spoken since an autopsy showed Laurent suffered 10 gunshot wounds.

“Salisbury City Council has received increased correspondence surrounding the Salisbury Police Department’s use of no-knock warrants, most recently as it relates to the Ferguson Laurent Jr. officer-involved shooting,” the news release said. “City Council hears the concerns of the community.”

The news release said the city has looked into a similar policy change that another North Carolina city council enacted, but the policy was later overturned because it contradicted state law.

City officials have said they cannot comment on the Laurent case until the State Bureau of Investigation has completed its investigation.

According to the release, no decision or vote will be made about the use of no-knock warrants in the city until the attorney general gives an opinion on the council’s legal authority.

“The Salisbury City Council is dedicated to equality and fairness to all of its citizens,” the news release said. “As well, the city of Salisbury is committed to assuring that its law enforcement officers have the ability to protect all citizens and themselves from harm, combat crime and to assure adherence to all constitutional safeguards.”