Judge drops activist group, 10 officers from Raleigh police ‘no-knock’ raid lawsuit

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  • A federal judge has removed the activist group Emancipate NC from a lawsuit involving a 2020 "no-knock" raid by Raleigh police.
  • U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle ruled that the group lacked standing to take part in the case.
  • In the same order, Boyle removed 10 Raleigh police officers as defendants in the case. He determined the officers did not use "excessive" force by pointing their guns at plaintiffs.

A federal judge has removed the activist group Emancipate NC from a lawsuit accusing Raleigh police of violating residents’ rights during a “no-knock” raid at the wrong home in 2020.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle ruled Monday that the group lacked standing to take part in the case. Boyle’s order also removes 10 police officers as defendants in the suit. Each is a member of Raleigh Police Department’s Selective Enforcement Unit.

“The issue here is whether Emancipate NC has suffered an injury in fact,” Boyle wrote. “An organization is not injured by simply diverting resources to address an ‘abstract concern with a subject.’”

“Here, it is not enough that RPD ‘s alleged no-knock policy was inconsistent with Emancipate’s mission,” Boyle added. “Emancipate must show that defendants’ conduct impeded Emancipate from carrying out its mission.”

“[I]t is clear that Emancipate was not injured in fact,” Boyle wrote. “Emancipate’s mission is to end mass incarceration and racism in the legal system. Emancipate claims that it diverted resources to oppose RPD ‘s policy of executing no-knock warrants. According to Emancipate, this diversion of resources prevented it from addressing other issues, causing Emancipate injury in fact.”

“Emancipate may have diverted resources to challenge defendant ‘s conduct, but that budgetary decision does not qualify as injury in fact,” the judge explained. “Emancipate does not have standing because it has not shown that defendants’ actions impeded Emancipate from performing its mission.”

Boyle issued a warning about allowing Emancipate NC to participate in the lawsuit. “Indeed, if Emancipate had standing here, it would follow that any organization with an ‘abstract concern’ in an adjudication could establish standing by diverting resources to oppose a defendant’s actions. Such a principle is inconsistent with both the law and common sense.”

The lawsuit contended the 10 named members of Raleigh’s Selective Enforcement Unit violated plaintiffs’ rights by using excessive force. The “excessive” force consisted of officers pointing their guns at the plaintiffs.

“The SEU defendants did not violate plaintiffs’ clearly established rights,” Boyle wrote. “Officers executing a search warrant do not violate any clearly established rights when they point their firearms at the unknown occupants of a residence. … Because plaintiffs cannot show a violation of a clearly established right, the SEU defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.”

Boyle’s order does not end the lawsuit. Ten individual plaintiffs can continue to challenge the May 2020 raid at home on Burgundy Street. Boyle agreed to extend the deadline for plaintiffs to conduct pretrial discovery in the case.

Even with the removal of the Selective Enforcement Unit from the lawsuit, the city of Raleigh, its police chief, city manager, and four other police officers remain as defendants.