The Breanna Taylor story just got worse. But it is the judge and the statutes that are to blame for her death even more than the police officers that killed her.
Breanna Taylor was killed in her apartment by gunfire from Lexington KY police officers on March 13, 2020. The source cited below has the fact-checked summary of what happened, so I won't review that here. Yesterday a grand jury declined to charge any of the three police officers in the death of Breanna, instead charging one for recklessly firing his weapon in a way that endangered other people in the neighborhood. In other words: the shooting and killing of Breanna was entirely legal.
Not surprisingly, this is a terrible situation. The sustained cries for Justice in the face of proven systemic racism in the criminal justice system (seem my post from the second day of Rosh Hashanah) have loudly and consistently put Breanna's name at the top of the list of innocent victims of police actions. The protestors are out in force again, demanding a prosecution for the death of Breanna itself. And in a criminal move, someone shot two police officers during the protests last night. Horrible.
I say this is a terrible situation because both sides are right and everything about the night she died was wrong.
Why is it the Judge's fault?
I hate the rules and laws that allowed for the police action that night. While there was police incompetence that aggravated the situation, the fact is that the system is built for the no-knock middle of the night warrant to exist. Once that exists, the police are right to use it - and they did. It is the judge who is supposed to use discretion to permit or not permit a warrant, and a judge does not have to permit those warrants just because they are an option.
The no-knock warrant is a travesty of justice that inevitably and predictable creates exactly this kind of shootout. A citizen has a right to defend their property when under violence invasion. The police have a right to violently invade. It is insane. The police legally returned fire after Kenneth Walker lawfully used his legal firearm to shoot in self defense at whoever (the Police) were breaking down his door in the middle of the night. What does anyone think is going to happen?
It is revolting, but the grand jury is saying that what happened did not break the law. It was terrible, and that's why the police department settled a wrongful death lawsuit with a $12,000,000 pay out to the family. But don't expect jail time for the officers when it was the judge and the statute that created the shootout's circumstance in the first place.
Unfortunately, the calls for justice in the form of prosecution are unrealistic, and will never be satisfied. The ongoing FBI investigation will be about her civil rights, and to convict an officer they had to know at the time that they were violating those civil rights. The only justice Breanna's family will ever see will come from the ballot box. The city of Louiseville has already banned no-knock warrant protocols by local statues. A national version is dying on the table of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
If that is all that comes of this, it is not enough and the protestors have every moral ethical and fact based right to rage over the injustice of the system. It will get worse before it gets better.