NO JUSTICE FOR BREONNA TAYLOR?

Naomi Osaka, before her opening round US Open match, wearing a mask that says “Breonna Taylor”.
Source: Associated Press
Written by Timothy Lim

For months now, several prominent celebrities have taken to social media and other platforms to raise awareness for black victims of police brutality in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Breonna Taylor, a black woman formerly employed as an Emergency Medical Technician in Louisville, Kentucky, is one such victim of police brutality. Her name has become a mainstay in most media circles, with phrases such as “Justice for Breonna Taylor” being widely circulated during the protests which occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s death on 26 May this year.

 

Tragedy Befalls

Minutes past midnight on 13 March, officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department conducted a drug bust on Ms. Taylor’s home, following the issuance of a no-knock warrant. A battering ram was used to breach the front door.

The warrant was approved on account of Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover’s drug activities and deep ties to a narcotics ring. Authorities believed that Mr. Glover had used her apartment to cache his narcotics supplies.

At the time, Ms. Taylor was with her current boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Neither had any record of drug related offences. 

What followed was an exchange of gunshots with Ms. Taylor as the sole fatality. No narcotics were found at the scene.

The ensuing police report falsely documented “no injuries” to Ms. Taylor’s person and no forced entry.

 

Bookended by Court Debacle

On 23 September, the Jefferson County circuit court indicted only one of the three officers involved in the shooting of Ms. Taylor with three counts of first-degree “wanton endangerment”.

The grand jury found Brett Hankinson guilty of the charges after concluding that the shots fired from his service weapon had landed on an apartment adjacent to Ms. Taylor’s residence. The apartment, at the time, was occupied by three unnamed individuals.

The other two officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove were acquitted on account of being “justified in their use of force” as acts of self-defence. Sgt Mattingly was hit in the upper left thigh region with a bullet fired by Mr. Walker, who was a licensed gun owner and acting on suspicions of home invasion. In total, the pair fired 22 shots.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the state’s first black republican chief prosecutor, addressed the press following the ruling. In his statement, Mr. Cameron said ballistics analysis concluded that six bullets landed on Ms. Taylor, with one being the fatal shot.

The reports cast “reasonable doubt” over which officer landed that fatal shot after several different conclusions were reached.

 

Aftermath

Protests over the ruling broke out in many cities all over the country.

In Louisville, the LMPD released a statement confirming that two officers were shot during the protests. Mayor Greg Fischer decreed a 72-hour curfew which still saw protesters past curfew hours.

Mr. Hankinson, who had been fired from the department, is currently out on a USD$150,00 bail following the indictment. The other two officers resigned to administrative duties.

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