Breonna Taylor Case Continues to Spark Controversy

Breonna+Taylor+memorial+in+downtown+Louisville.

FloNight / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Breonna Taylor memorial in downtown Louisville.

On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor was killed by a police officer in her Louisville, Kentucky home. She was shot 6 times in a botched raid after police burst into her apartment at night to serve a warrant.  Her boyfriend shot and hit a police officer, thinking he was an intruder. Her death, along with other incidents this year of African Americans being killed by police has caused many people across the country to rise up with protests and riots during the past 6 months, as they express their demands for justice and change in policing in the United States. The whole world turned eyes to Louisville yesterday as they awaited the decision of the grand jury on the case of Breonna Taylor’s death.

On Wednesday September 23, a Louisville judge announced the decision of a grand jury which had been investigating the shooting.  The grand jury returned indictments against ne of the officers, Brent Hankison.  He was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment which could result 1-5 years in prison for each count if he is found guilty at trial. The judge also set a $15,000 full cash bail for Hankison.  No other indictments were announced, meaning that the grand jury did not charge the two officers who entered Taylor’s home and shot her.

Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky Attorney General, spoke to the press after the indictments were announced.  He stated, “The decision before my office is not to decide if the loss of Breonna Taylor’s life was a tragedy — the answer to that question is unequivocally yes.” Cameron also told the people that as a black man, he understood the pain that they’re enduring. However, many disagreed with the charges; resulting in renewed protests across the country. In the city of Louisville, many were marching, and eventually the protests turned violent as two policeman were shot and rushed to the hospital. The mayor of Louisville issued a 9pm curfew for the city to try and keep the situation as peaceful as possible.

Breonna Taylor’s case has been a major complaint in the Black Lives Matter protest movement that has been sweeping the country and the world since March.  The New York Times reported that Taylor’s mom, Tamika Palmer, who settled her lawsuit against the city of Louisville for $12 million, said that of her daughter’s case, “it’s bigger than just Black Lives.” She also went on to say, “We’ve got to figure out how to fix the city, how to heal from here.”

Breonna Taylor’s attorney Ben Crump along with her whole family were devastated at the news. Ben Crump responded with, “Today’s news falls far short of what constitutes justice. But by no means does it define this movement or this moment in our history.” Ben says, “The Grand Jury may have denied Breonna justice, but this decision cannot take away her legacy as a loving, vibrant young Black woman who served on the front lines in the midst of a devastating pandemic.” Taylor had been an emergency room technician.

LCA students have had conflicting feelings about the case and the results of the grand jury investigation.  While they grieve the violent death of a young woman in her own home, they also feel for police officers who faced gunfire in the line of duty. Senior Jacob Dixon, 12 said,”no one should lose their life, but in the way it played out there is nothing you can do.” Abby Potter, 9, disagreed.  She said, “Breonna Taylor deserved justice. We used her name as a trend.” She added, “What happened was awful and going forward we need to make sure that we give our police better education and training so that this will not happen again. I do not blame the Louisville police for what happened but rather the unjust system.”  Cole Ramey, 11, also believes that the indictments did not go far enough.  He said, “I think that the cop should be charged with murder and that his current charge is not enough.”  Senior Alex Humphries expressed concern that the facts are being ignored because of public opinion. “Her boyfriend shot first, they were defending themselves.”  She urged, “We should look at the facts instead of prioritizing emotions that fit our narratives.”

The FBI is continuing to investigate the case as well for potential civil rights violations.