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House Judiciary opens formal inquiry into ATF killing of Arkansas airport executive

Lawmakers question lack of required body cams for raid, no-knock execution of warrant after Just the News reporting.

Published: April 22, 2024 12:37pm

Updated: April 22, 2024 12:43pm

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday launched a formal inquiry into federal agents’ fatal shooting of an Arkansas airport executive during the execution of a gun case search warrant at his home, demanding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) explain why it carried out the search without knocking and without using required body cams.

The ATF’s fatal shooting last month of Bryan Malinowski, an administrator at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, has reignited concerns about the agency’s enforcement of gun laws and regulations under President Joe Biden as well as prompted a criminal investigation by Arkansas authorities.

The death and the circumstances of ATF’s pursuit of Malinowski was the focus of a recent Just the News investigation.

“The circumstances of Mr. Malinowski's death raise questions about whether the ATF followed proper protocol during the execution of this search warrant,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan wrote ATF Director Steven Dettelbach in a letter demanding answers.

“Department of Justice policy and President Biden's Executive Order 14074 requires ATF agents—including those who conducted the search warrant on March 19, 2024—to wear active body-worn cameras during the execution of a search warrant,” the letter noted. “The Department has since confirmed to the Malinowski family that ATF agents were not wearing body cameras during the raid, a violation of the Department policy.

Jordan also questioned whether ATF agencies “complied with" a Justice Department policy that sharply limited agents’ use of "no knock" entries.

“ATF has not explained why it resorted to a no knock entry of Mr. Malinowski's home when it could have peacefully executed the warrant while he was away from his residence,” Jordan’s letter stated.

The chairman said he was concerned ATF’s raid was driven by an ideological crackdown by the Biden administration on gun owners who sell weapons occasionally without acquiring a federal firearms license.

"ATF's pre-dawn, no-knock raid of the Malinowski home coincided with the agency's implementation of a regulation to restrict the right to private lawful sales of firearms,” the letter noted. “In particular, ATF seeks to drastically expand the universe of Americans who would be classified as a 'dealer' under federal law requiring them to obtain a license to become a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), subjecting them to a term of imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000, or both.

“Mr. Malinowski exercised his Second Amendment rights and was a firearms enthusiast. Even if, as ATF has alleged, Mr. Malinowski violated federal law, it does not justify ATF’s actions that ultimately lead to the use of deadly force,’” the letter added.

Former U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins, the lawyer representing Malinowski’s estate, has raised concerns about whether the ATF followed proper procedures executing the search.

While there is reportedly no bodycam footage, Cummins released security camera footage showing the conduct of the ATF raid.

The newly released videos show several ATF agents arriving in the early morning of March 19 in ten separate vehicles. The second video shows agents approaching the front door of the home where one officer applies what appears to be tape to obscure the doorbell camera on Malinowski’s home.

“The Malinowski family believes the already known facts amply demonstrate ATF’s tactics on March 19 were reckless and incompetent, and completely unnecessary,” Cummins said of the incident.

The ATF has declined to comment and noted the investigation is still active and ongoing.

The Arkansas State Police confirmed to Just the News earlier this month that it is conducting an investigation into whether or not the use of force was proper under state law.

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