Justice or Vengeance?

Here’s the conclusion of the Washington Post editorial on the city’s settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor and the news from Louisville that only one police officer will be indicted on charges of wanton endangerment:

These are welcome measures that may do much good, particularly if they are accompanied by robust accountability efforts that ensure the reforms aren’t walked back after the national gaze turns elsewhere. Still, there is so much a settlement like this cannot do: It cannot change the fact that Black women too often have lethal brushes with the law, simply because of the company they have once kept; it cannot change the fact that too many cases are ignored, as Ms. Taylor’s case could easily have been without the tireless efforts of advocates; and it cannot bring her back.

and here’s the conclusion of the corresponding Wall Street Journal editorial:

Mr. Cameron [ed.: Kentucky’s Attorney General] said his “heart breaks” for the Taylor family, that Breonna’s death is a “tragedy,” and that “as a black man” he understands the pain the community feels. But he says this has made his team all the more determined to get to the facts. Now, he says, it is up to the community: “Our reaction to the truth today says what kind of society we want to be. Do we really want the truth, or do we want a truth that fits our narrative?”

and here’s the news report from CNN on the situation in Lousiville:

(CNN)Two Louisville police officers were shot Wednesday night as protesters marched following news that only one of the three officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death was indicted on first-degree wanton endangerment charges.

The other two officers who also fired shots during the botched March raid were not indicted, meaning no officer was charged with killing the 26-year-old Black emergency room technician and aspiring nurse.

Who’s got it right? Both? Neither? Are the “protesters” seeking justice or vengeance? Or something else?

6 comments… add one
  • Drew Link

    I think we know the motives of various “protesters:” vengeance, disruption and acknowledgment.

    A local news station has put together what they claim are the known “facts.” It will take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure this one out. (Sorry its so long; I just lifted the whole thing)

    The recent case of a deadly shooting by LMPD officers has gained national attention, and locally, many on social media are making varied claims about the case, and about the way local media have covered it. So we want to share a list of facts that we have confirmed, and answer some questions rooted in inaccurate social media posts by some members of the local community.

    + Warrant says suspect used her apartment to hide drugs

    + Breonna Taylor was killed in ‘botched police raid,’ attorney says

    + Family of EMT shot, killed by LMPD police retains high-profile civil rights attorney

    + Judge releases man who shot officer during deadly confrontation

    Now, the facts:

    + LMPD officers went to the home of Breonna Taylor on Springfield Drive on March 13 to serve a warrant related to a drug trafficking investigation.

    + LMPD officials described that warrant as a “no-knock warrant,” meaning the officers were not required to announce themselves upon arriving at Taylor’s home, but those LMPD officials said they did anyway. Taylor’s family and attorneys dispute that the officers announced themselves.

    + A shootout ensued between a suspect inside the home — Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker — and the LMPD officers. One LMPD officer was struck, and three of them fired back. The officer who was struck has recovered. Taylor’s family has filed a civil lawsuit that states Walker thought someone was breaking into the apartment, and that’s why he fired his gun.

    + Walker, whose name was not on the warrant, is now charged with attempted murder of a police officer.

    + Taylor was shot multiple times and died during the shootout.

    + Three LMPD officers — Jon Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — all were placed on administrative assignment, per department protocol.

    + There is no officer body-camera video of the incident. The aforementioned trio work in LMPD’s Criminal Interdiction Division, comprised of officers who generally work narcotics cases and therefore are not issued body-cameras due to the nature of their work.

    + Police fired shots from the outside into the apartment through closed blinds.

    + Another suspect named on the warrant, Jamarcus Glover, was arrested at another location a short time before the police shootout at Taylor’s home, according to the arrest citation.

    + Taylor was not armed.

    + Attorneys for Taylor said neither Taylor nor Walker had a history of drugs or violence.

    + Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine, already investigating Kenneth Walker, recused himself of the investigation into Taylor’s death, citing a conflict of interest. He has asked Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to appoint a special prosecutor for that investigation.

    + Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and LMPD Chief Steve Conrad have called for a federal review of the findings of the LMPD Public Integrity Unit’s investigation into the Taylor case, once it is complete.

    And here are some responses to several inaccuracies the WAVE 3 News team has seen on some national news sites being passed around social media and:

    + Statement: Police had the wrong address

    Fact: Taylor’s correct address was on the warrant, including her apartment number and pictures of the outside of her apartment and patio.

    + Statement: Breonna Taylor’s name wasn’t on the warrant

    Fact: Breonna Taylor’s name was one of three people named on the warrant, which included her date of birth.

    + Statement: Police should have knocked and announced themselves before entering the home

    Fact: The warrant was a “no-knock” warrant, meaning officers were not required to announce themselves before making entry. Again, LMPD says the officers did announce themselves, but Taylor’s attorneys dispute that claim.

    + Statement: Breonna Taylor was shot while sleeping in her bedroom

    Fact: Taylor’s attorneys said she was not asleep and was shot in the hallway outside of her bedroom.

    + Statement: Police already had a suspect in custody

    Fact: One person related to the drug trafficking investigation, Jamarcus Glover, was arrested at a different location on the same date. It is unclear whether police believed a third person named on the warrant, Adrian Walker, was inside the home at the time of the shootout, or at the location where Glover was arrested a short time earlier. It is not clear if Kenneth Walker and Adrian Walker are related.

  • Andy Link

    I have not really followed this incident at all, so Drew’s synopsis is helpful.

    It seems like another example of a no-knock raid gone wrong. My sense is that this tactic is overused by police departments and it greatly increases the chance for someone to get shot and killed. Shooting through windows and shooting unarmed people demonstrates amateur tactics at the very least.

  • PD Shaw Link

    @Andy, it wasn’t a no-knock entry though. The warrant authorized it, but the supervisor ordered the police to do a “knock and announce” instead, and there appears to be a witness (located by the NY Times!?!) from another apartment that heard this.

    I think if the Attorney General had persuasive evidence that the police disobeyed orders that criminal charges would be brought for some sort of manslaughter. As it stands, the way this looks is like the police department exercised restraint in how they set out to execute the warrant, which makes a prosecution more difficult.

    It would be nice if the A.G. could give a report of his findings, but I doubt he will do that with open prosecutions.

  • Andy Link


    Thanks. As I said, I’m not current with the details of this case. I’m speaking in more general terms about these tactics, their efficacy and the ability for police to carry them out effectively without killing unarmed or innocent people. At first glance the record seems quite mixed.

    And many videos I’ve seen where the police “knock” is actually the police pounding on the door and yelling “police” and then battering the door down a few seconds later. If that happened at my house late at night the door would be down before I was even conscious. Which is exactly why police (and military forces) do it that way. If you expect a violent reaction, then that makes sense. My tentative position is that some number of these police raids do not justify that assumption.

  • steve Link

    If I understand this correctly, the police still broke into the home. They might have announced themselves, might have not. Would be good to know how much time after the (alleged) announcement they broke in. They broke into the home of people who, according to the above had no history of violence. They defended themselves, which would seem to be legal, but they are charged with shooting an officer.

    So somehow the police make a mistake and its a shoulder shrug. A citizen defends themselves and mistakenly shoots a police officer and they get charged.

    My position would be that very, very few no knock or knock and them right after bust down the door raids are worth the risk. Police go to the wrong address surprisingly often. They get to shoot if they just think you might have a gun or are scared. In this case the person they were after wasn’t even there. These kinds of roads should be rare and reserved for arresting violent offenders. Finally, we need some way to punish the police when they make a mistake. As it stands, if they ago to the wrong address or go to the correct address but when the person they are after is not there they suffer no consequences if they shoot someone or destroy property. Once they have a warrant everything is legal.


  • Drew Link

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