Tensions and feelings are raw again following the announcement of indictments in the Breonna Taylor case. Specifically, the feelings are raw primarily because of the lack of indictments in the Breonna Taylor case. The only indictment that came down was as a result of shots fired into the neighbor’s home.
In situations like this it is difficult to be dispassionate. However, if we are even to attempt to look at the legal ramifications of things we have to look at the situation dispassionately. We will start with the most obvious question. Should Breonna Taylor be dead? It seems like a simple enough question with a simple enough answer? Did she do anything wrong? Did they shoot her to protect others or themselves? Did she even have a criminal record? Was she suspected of a crime? I think everyone can agree the answer is no on all counts.
However, this is where reasonable people go their separate ways. Those that deny police accountability do so because Taylor’s boyfriend opened fire on the officers. They fired back. So anything that results from that interaction is justified as self-defense. If you ignore all of the other facts in the case then that conclusion would seem reasonable enough.
Ask many of those same people what would happen if someone busted down their door in the middle of the night and they would all say something similar. That person would be dead. They’d get their gun and shoot that son of a bitch. Of course, in saying so they don’t quite grasp the problem in this case. The officers involved had a no knock warrant and were dressed in plain clothes. What is true is that some seem to claim they identified themselves as police at some point. Yet, when you have a no knock warrant you are presumably using the element of surprise to capture your suspect. If you wanted to announce yourself before you busted down the door you wouldn’t get a no knock warrant and you wouldn’t dress in plain clothes.
The moment they busted down that door then Taylor’s boyfriend was justified in opening fire. If what proponents of justified use of force is correct, then he would have been fully justified in firing at anyone busting down his door in the middle of the night. You don’t have to have intent to kill to be guilty of killing Taylor. You just need intent to be guilty of a higher charge. When you create an unsafe situation that results in someone’s death then you are guilty of manslaughter.
Lest anyone think that I am getting out of my normal 1000 word response this morning, we need to keep digging a little deeper. Those that defend police will point out that they were carrying a legal judicial order and doing so as prescribed by law. They don’t have to announce themselves as police before they kick down the door. They don’t have to wear anything that would identify themselves as police. They are certainly allowed to fire back once fired upon. Fine.
This is a simple situation with a very complicated solution. Breonna Taylor should not be dead. She had no criminal record and was in bed asleep when she was shot. Someone is legally responsible for her death. It can’t be her. We’ve shown that it really can’t be her boyfriend since he behaved in a way many would in the case that someone invaded their home. If we are to believe that the police are not responsible since they carried out a legal order then who is responsible?
The problem is that those in power in Kentucky feel that no one is. I think we know that’s not true. So, if we remove Taylor, her boyfriend, and the police involved then who do we have left? I think many of you are not going to like the answer because I didn’t the first time it popped into my head. Who gave them the authority to do this? That’s right, it was a judge himself.
Lawmakers gave police the right to use no knock warrants. The police officers supervisors obviously signed off on them seeking the no knock warrant in the first place. So, who is legally responsible? The judge that signed the no knock warrant should be arrested for reckless endangerment. The lawmakers that allowed no knock warrants are also legally liable. The supervisors that approved and sanctioned this are responsible for not only Taylor’s death but putting their own officers in harm’s way.
It seems extreme and that is what I thought when the thought first entered my noggin. Still, we cannot get past the fact that Breonna Taylor is dead and she shouldn’t be. So, either the police did not follow procedure when executing a no knock warrant and recklessly caused her death or they executed it perfectly and the mere use a no knock warrant recklessly caused her death. It’s one of the two.
What we know is that no one is going to arrest a judge. No one is going to arrest any state elected officials. No one is going to arrest the officers’ superiors. This is all we are going to get. So, for those that want to blame the boyfriend consider this: what would you have done? Are you okay with someone breaking down your door in the middle of the night? Are we reasonably expected to comply under those circumstances? I may not fire back, but I’m certainly not just waiting around to die. I suspect you aren’t either. So why are we expecting that in this case?