Friday, May 7, 2021

Grand jury indicts officer in Breonna Taylor case


A Jefferson County, Kentucky, grand jury handed down a three-count indictment Wednesday in connection with the police shooting (and killing) of Breonna Taylor, 26, in Louisville on March 13, the Associated Press reports.

Washington (2016) — Marchers protest to end police violence (Joseph Gruber/iStockPhoto)

One Louisville police officer, Brett Hankison, whose bullets never entered Ms Taylor’s body, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree, a felony, and if convicted of all three, could serve five years in prison for each count.

How easy it is for the state to take a Black life without any accountability!

At the time of the shooting, Ms Taylor was an innocent woman, sleeping in her own home, breaking no law. The police broke down her door and shot her dead.

Reactions to the indictment have been confused, they have been depressed, they have been angry, and they have been unsurprised, the student newspaper at DuPont Manual High School in Louisville reports.

From a teacher: “Though I’m not surprised, I am deeply disappointed in this indictment (or lack thereof). I believe that at the very least, there should have been charges filed that directly related to Breonna Taylor’s death instead of wanton endangerment. But laws in our country were created to protect those few in power, not Breonna Taylor. Until our entire judicial system is overhauled, there will be no justice.”

From a student: “I wish that I could say I was shocked by the decision to only charge Brett Hankinson, but given the way the entire case has been handled thus far, it’s not surprising. The fact that the bail is only $15,000 is so wrong and unjust. Breonna Taylor’s life was worth more than $15,000.”

From another student: “When I read that they weren’t charging the officers who fired their weapons I was shocked, but at the same time I wasn’t,”

The school cancelled all activities on the day of the announcement:

Students at the school, near Ground Zero for many of the protests that have been going on over Ms Taylor’s shooting since May, are seriously affected by the events in their hometown. One insightful op-ed in The Manual Red-Eye considers the great misunderstanding that has arisen with the “All Lives Matter” movement, in opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“While ALM may seem like a great movement that’s pushing for equality for everyone at first, it doesn’t take much looking to realize the truth,” writes Kayleigh Knight. “If ALM supporters truly cared about making the world an equal place for everyone, they would be advocating for not only the Black community, but other oppressed communities as well, such as the LGBTQ+ community. The only time ALM supporters bring up equality is to discredit BLM and its goal when the movement is mentioned. They continuously attack the movement and its flaws instead of celebrating the change it’s trying to make. If All Lives Matter supporters actually cared so much about all lives, they would support BLM too.”


But they don’t, Kayleigh. I think you know that now. When the state does the killing, the law is on their side. They are the law.

Since the shooting in this case, however, may have been in self-defense—both the shooting that originated in the house and the return fire by police—the narrative promoted by the BLM movement seems to apply more to the overarching condition of our law enforcement agencies than to the facts in the case.

Perhaps the warrant that led to the shooting was unnecessary and would not have been issued if the people suspected of drug-related activity were white (note: Ms Taylor’s former boyfriend, not the one with her in her house at the time of the shooting, was suspected of dealing drugs, which leads to questions about police competence in knowing where subjects are living). Perhaps the decision to serve it in the middle of the night, packing military weapons and a military world view, and catch subjects off-guard or in a sleepy state was a questionable police tactic (depending on how you think police should operate). And there’s no doubt police reform and retraining are needed.

Furthermore, no finding of fact in this case can nullify or even diminish the need to understand the effect such a killing has on Black, LGBTQ+, or any minority students. Teachers, take note: Every time something like this happens, every minority person, in every community and in every school, feels the the depths of stress, anger, and fear. We cannot be indifferent to that any longer.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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