September 24, 2020

Breonna Taylor

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“Hours after a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for Breonna Taylor’s death and protesters took to the streets, authorities said two officers were shot and wounded Wednesday night… The violence comes after prosecutors said two officers who fired their weapons at Taylor, a Black woman, were justified in using force to protect themselves after they faced gunfire from her boyfriend. The only charges were three counts of wanton endangerment against fired Officer Brett Hankison for shooting into a home next to Taylor’s with people inside.” AP News

“[Kentucky Attorney General Daniel] Cameron said Wednesday that officers both knocked and announced their presence at Taylor's apartment, a conclusion he said his team reached based on officers' statements and a corroborating witness — a civilian.” Louisville Courier-Journal

Last week, “The city of Louisville agreed to pay [Taylor’s] family $12 million and reform police practices as part of a settlement.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left welcomes Louisville’s police reforms but is disappointed by the indictment.

“After this horrific killing spawned local outrage and garnered national attention, Louisville voted to ban no-knock warrants. Many jurisdictions around the country have followed suit…

“Though Ms. Taylor’s death was partially tied to a specific kind of warrant, the [Louisville police] department has agreed to more oversight over warrants in general — commanding officers will be required to review and approve all search warrants. The department will also implement a system to identify officers who repeatedly violate standards, a system that might have flagged one of the officers involved in Ms. Taylor’s killing. The police department also will encourage officers to live in the community and take part in community service…

“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.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

Brett Hankison “had a record of sexual assault allegations against him that were all dismissed. Meanwhile, Hankison is also being sued by a man who says Hankison harasses suspects with unnecessary arrests and by planting drugs on them. While the system will formally track such complaints, the allegations against Hankison were already known — and didn’t bar him from staying on the job… the reforms presented in Louisville are so far only scratching the surface of problems that run deep through policing’s core.”
Fabiola Cineas, Vox

“The victims are identified by their initials – ‘C.D.,’ ‘T.M.,’ and ‘Z.F.’ – but there is no mention of ‘B.T.’ The woman whose death helped to galvanize mass protests and a racial reckoning in America was quite literally erased by the justice system… Wanton endangerment is a Class D felony that means the accused put someone at risk of death or serious injury by behaving in a way that shows ‘extreme indifference to the value of human life.’ Other examples in the same [class D felony] category include shoplifting, possessing illegal drugs or stalking–crimes that are hardly on the same level as shooting rounds into a civilian’s apartment.”
Angelina Chapin, The Cut

“Collectively, the three officers fired more than 30 rounds… An evaluation of a use of force case requires more than a distillation of provocation. It requires an evaluation of the reasonableness of the amount of force used, and whether the officers used more force than was necessary to neutralize the threat. We are left without insight into whether that evaluation was made, let alone contemplated, and whether the logic was guided by the same benefit of the doubt afforded to police officers in officer-involved shootings but denied to civilians accused of similar actions…

“The fact that Taylor, who neither held nor fired a gun at the officers, was the ultimate recipient of that lethal force underscores the true tragedy. Disturbingly, it seems her death was summarily dismissed as collateral damage. The mere phrase ‘collateral damage’ evokes a visceral reaction. But so does the realization that they decided to prosecute an officer for prospective loss of life, but none of the officers for the actual loss of life. It confounds the mind as much as the soul. But until there is a judicial reassessment of how we evaluate the reasonableness of an officer's use of lethal force, it is justice that will end up being collateral damage.”
Laura Coates, CNN

“At a time when advocates across the country are calling for reprioritizing funding for traditional law enforcement, it's essential that reforms also include the removal of draconian and overly punitive drug laws, which are at the heart of why so many Black people are harassed, arrested and imprisoned by police in the first place. Black people are almost four times as likely as their white counterparts to be arrested on marijuana charges, despite similar rates of consumption…

“We need a public health approach to drugs and increase access to health and social services for people involved with the drug market. Several studies have found that addiction treatment also decreases crime. But in cities across the United States, the allocation to public health is often less than what is spent on overtime for police.”
Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, Salon

From the Right

The right argues that the indictment was the right decision but worries about the self-defense implications of common police practices.

The right argues that the indictment was the right decision but worries about the self-defense implications of common police practices.

“At a time when Americans have watched too many public officials abdicate their responsibilities to uphold the law, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron on Wednesday proved to be an encouraging exception… Mr. Cameron’s manner was calm and deliberate, always returning to facts and law. His handling of a difficult task ought to reassure Americans who worry about police who use excessive force, but also about the riots following some police shootings and cases of politicized justice…

“Mr. Cameron 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?’”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“On MSNBC, retired African American Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey criticized Cameron for not filing additional charges against officers: ‘Let me say this as a Black woman… he does not speak for Black folks. He's skinfolk but not, he is not kinfolk… He does not speak for all of us. This was not a tragedy, this was a murder. He should be ashamed of himself.’ Louisville attorney Dawn Elliot, who is also Black, said earlier that Cameron needs to stop ‘eating the coon flakes the White House is serving’ and criticized him for supporting President Trump…

It's sad that Blacks on the left seek to force, bully and shame other Blacks to operate in emotion and fear. It’s sad that we can’t all collectively grieve for another Black life lost without running away totally from facts and reason. It’s sad that so many prominent African American leaders wholly endorse and promote the kind of reckless emotion that has caused so much pain and destruction of our cities over the past few months. This is an emotional moment, but we must not let our emotions get in the way of facts, and we must not let preconceived narratives influence rash decisions. We must not allow our country to be dictated to by the whims of the left-wing media and mob rule.”
Rob Smith, Fox News

“I understand the charges against Hankinson. One of the first things I ever learned when I began regularly taking self defense firearm courses is to 1) know your target and 2) know what’s behind your target. Firing into vertical blind-covered windows is neither of these things and not just a stated violation of Louisville Police Department policy, but also of gun training, period…

“Kentucky has both Castle Doctrine and a stand your ground law — meaning you can protect yourself without duty to retreat… By all accounts Walker was well within his rights as a legal gun owner woken up in the middle of the night to loud noises…

No-knock raids coupled with Castle Doctrine are a legal paradox and concerning threat to the right of self defense. Yes — the AG says the Taylor case wasn’t a no-knock raid and stated that the officers did knock and announced their presence, confirmed by a witness, but Walker maintains he didn’t hear, didn’t know they were police and thought the couple was being robbed… It’s completely possible that the officers announced and Walker didn’t hear them. It’s possible to believe that he thought it was a home invasion or robbery.”
Dana Loesch, Substack

Dated But Relevant: “Recall Walker’s 911 call. If he was telling the truth in the moment, even immediately after the shootout, he didn’t know what was happening. Many of these dynamic entries take place late at night, triggering absolute chaos in a home when people were moments before sleeping soundly. Cops are yelling, dogs are barking, and armed men are sprinting through your home in the dark. In that moment—absent immediate clarity regarding the officers’ identity—multiple state statutes give you the right to reach for a gun the Constitution permits you to possess…

“Something (or some things) have to give, and those ‘things’ are no-knock raids and qualified immunity. Individual liberties should not be sacrificed on the altar of police drug raids, and victims of civil rights abuses should be entitled to receive compensation for their losses, including their injuries and wounds… Supreme Court precedent has empowered these conflicts, but legislatures can change the law. Widespread no-knock raids are incompatible with civil liberties, including one of the most basic civil liberties of all—the fundamental right of self-defense.”
David French, The Dispatch

A libertarian's take

“The March 13 shooting, which has figured prominently in recent protests against police brutality, followed a sadly familiar pattern. Hankison and two other plainclothes officers broke into Taylor's home around 12:40 a.m., awakening her and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who mistook the armed invaders for robbers… This sort of operation is inherently dangerous because the same tactics that police use to catch their targets off guard, in the hope of preventing resistance, predictably lead to that very result as residents exercise their constitutional right to armed self-defense. That scenario has played out again and again in cities across the country for decades…

The problem is the attempt to forcibly prevent Americans from consuming arbitrarily proscribed intoxicants, which is fundamentally immoral because it sanctions violence as a response to peaceful conduct that violates no one's rights. That problem cannot be solved by tinkering at the edges of drug prohibition.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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