Graphic art displaying Breonna Taylor with her first raised in power and the words "Bring Me Justice"

When Walls Are More Important: Breonna Taylor and a Broken Justice System

Photo Credit: “Breonna Taylor” by Annette Bernhardt is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Breonna Taylor was an innocent, unarmed woman killed by cops that broke into her home. Yet there was nothing illegal about it. That is a broken justice system.

I wrote about how broken the U.S. justice system is years ago when Brock Turner was literally caught in the act of raping a woman and was sentenced to only 6 months. That whole case was an example of white privilege, (even before we knew his victim was a woman of color – she recently released a book called Know My Name and is no longer anonymous).

There are many cases like these, where white folks are given more leniency than people of color. There are many (mostly white people) who argue that charges and sentencing comes down to statistics and that our justice system is impartial. They have buried their heads in the sand and closed their ears to the plight of their fellow citizens. They refuse to accept that there is systemic racism. They believe the Civil Rights Act solved all of the United State’s racial problems. They think there are more black people in jail because they are more likely to be criminals, that cops do not respond differently to black people than white, that because deaths as a result of shooting are low, there is no issue, and that so long as people are not doing anything illegal, they will be fine.

They cannot even entertain the idea that our system is broken.

But if that were true, how do you explain the Breonna Taylor case?

Technically, nothing anyone did was illegal. Nothing! And yet, a woman is dead and the people that killed her will face no repercussions in the justice system.

The cops had a “no-knock warrant”, which legally gave them the right to BREAK INTO THE HOME. Please explain how these types of warrants are constitutionally legal? If, the NYT is correct that the warrant was changed to knock and announce, let’s still please not ignore that no-knock warrants are apparently a legal thing that allows the cops to break into people’s homes with no announcement. The cops claimed they did announce themselves, though this is disputed by everyone else at the scene. And given that they LIED on their official report (claiming that Breonna Taylor wasn’t even injured when she was pronounced dead at the scene; the police department also lied about working with the U.S. Postal Office to secure the warrant in the first place), I think it’s safe to say these cops are unreliable narrators.

Kenneth Walker fired ONE shot at the cops because he thought someone was breaking into the apartment (they were). He was legally defending his home.

In response, the three cops fired THIRTY-TWO shots into the home.

32.

How is that not excessive force? How can they justify 32 shots? One of them shot 16 times, which is a full magazine.

Not all of them had line of sight. And that is what is illegal with the case and what the only charge will be. Brett Hankison shot through a slide glass door with blinds. He could not see his target. One of his 10 bullets hit the shared wall of the apartment.

He is being charged for in endangering, not Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend, but their neighbors.

Breonna Taylor did nothing wrong. The cops were looking for two suspects, neither of whom were Breonna Taylor or her boyfriend. In fact, the police department already had the suspects in custody! She was simply asleep in her bedroom when three strangers broken into her home and killed her.

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, the cop who was hit by Kenneth Walker’s single shot, said “I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night.”

The sad truth is that he is right, from a legal perspective. The cops did nothing legally wrong that night, except for what Hankison was charged with – wanton endangerment of Breonna Taylor’s neighbors.

But how can we call that moral? Or just?

Let me repeat, Breonna Taylor did nothing wrong.

Even if you believe that George Floyd, Sean Monterrosa, Tony McDade, Vincent Harris, Jake Blake, and the countless others shouldn’t have fought back, fled, checked their cars, whatever it is you think they did that wasn’t exactly following cops’ orders… how do you explain that Breonna Taylor, a first responder, was legally executed for no reason at all.

How can cops fire 32 times and think they did nothing wrong?

How can cops lie on their reports and think they did nothing wrong

How can cops know they had the wrong people and still call Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend criminals? (Mattingly implied this in his email to fellow officers)

The fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.

Please explain to me how Breonna Taylor was secure in her house?

It is a broken justice system when the people who are hired and paid to defend it think that a responsible response to a single shot is to fire 32 times and do not care that they killed someone.

It is a broken justice system when a wall – and the fact that it implies danger for others – gets more justice than the person actually killed.

Breonna Taylor was innocent. Breonna Taylor did nothing wrong. There was no justice. How can there be peace?

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