Police may knock down the door of a drug suspect after only a 20-second wait, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously today. The court rejected the appeal of LaShawn Banks, who was taking a shower when armed officers used a battering ram to enter his Las Vegas apartment in 1998 looking for drugs.
The justices said that if officers had waited any longer, a suspect could flush evidence down the toilet, the Associated Press reports. Justice David H. Souter, writing for the court, said that officers had reason to rush in order to find drugs in the apartment. “Police seeking a stolen piano may be able to spend more time to make sure they really need the battering ram,” Souter said. The court refused to spell out how long is reasonable in executing warrants.
Souter said that generally courts have considered whether police moved too hastily “case by case, largely avoiding categories and protocols for searches” under the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches.