I’ve purposely avoided commenting on this for a while. Primarily because I know how reporters frequently cherry pick facts to spin stories. Breonna Taylor’s case seems very straight forward however. That being the case, even as the child of a cop, I’m shocked and disappointed by the grand jury verdict earlier today.
All that said, let me give MY analysis based on what’s been disclosed in the media thus far.
The BIG problem I see here is one of policy and procedure, even more than the actions of the individual officers.
First, let me state I have ZERO problem with no knock warrants for known dangerous fugitives and drug dealers. Knocking in those instances will allow suspects to arms themselves and flush drugs or destroy evidence.
Where I *DO* have a problem however is the way that policy was (in my opinion) abused here. They were raiding Breonna Taylor’s house based on guilt by association with the only disclosed evidence being she knew a drug dealer; an ex of all things if I recall correctly. That alone makes a no-knock warrant questionable at best.
Even worse, they kicked in the door to the apartment at zero-dark thirty when ANY sane person is going to assume it’s a home invasion. *I* would have come out gun drawn also in the same situation. The police compounded this problem by not wearing uniforms NOR immediately identifying themselves as police. This all but guaranteed gun play was going to happen. Other than not identifying themselves immediately, this ALL appears to have been standard policy for the department.
I understand the need to keep officers safe, and to increase the odds of catching bad guys off-guard. Somewhere there has to be a balance with the public’s and suspect’s safety taken into account as well. No midnight raids, no out of uniform crap, and certainly no failure to identify. All three of those led the situation to a violent conclusion.
Now with the individual officers… Let’s take the EASY one first. The only one to get charged with anything was the idiot that fired blindly through a window that had blinds or curtains up. He had ZERO idea who he was shooting at, or where those rounds were going to end up. COMPLETELY inexcusable.
One of the first safety rules taught to all gun owners is to ALWAYS know exactly what you’re shooting at and where that bullet is going to go or could end up. Again, since the view through the window was obstructed, he had NO idea where his shots were going, or who/what they might hit. This was NOT a war zone. Tear gas or a flash bang might have been justified but NOT gunfire.
The other officers who were NOT charged… I have a harder time with. Murder requires deliberate intent to kill, and I don’t think that was there.
Manslaughter and some sort of negligence or dereliction of duty based on the lack of uniforms and failure to identify as law enforcement certainly might be appropriate. Technically, they did their job by the book per reports, with the exception of the failure to identify. It was the department’s policy that set up an inevitable shootout between a citizen reacting to a perceived home invasion and police trying to serve a search warrant in the wee hours of the morning.
What I *do* know is that things need to change on a variety of fronts. Policy needs to be written in a way that balances officer safety with public safety. Officer training needs to be better also. This kind of incident is killing morale in police departments all over the country and causing truly good cops to quit the force in droves.
What these incidents are doing to public trust, especially among the black community is just as bad and I think goes without saying at this point.
Protesters really need to check themselves as well however. Shooting cops, setting fires, looting and vandalism are all only making the situation worse, and turns public sympathy against the cause. All these riots really accomplish is driving all the businesses out of the communities that are protesting.
Who does THAT help?
Lastly, I have to call BS on the media as well. I do NOT know if anything was left out of Breonna Taylor’s story. It appears not. However, there have been multiple incidents where the facts were clearly cherry picked to escalate the situation and increase ratings. I saw it first hand with the Stephon Clark case in Sacramento when I lived there. We got more of the story than the national news. That was a case of a poor, mentally ill or at least severely distraught young man putting himself and police in a situation where it looked like he was pulling a weapon but it was far too dark to see. It was a tragedy, but NOT an execution by any means.