A Kentucky grand jury did not indict two of the three officers in the Breonna Taylor murder. No officers were charged with anything related to Breonna Taylor’s death.
The verdict consequentially legitimized the officer’s actions under a now illegal no-knock warrant. Kyle Mattingly and Matt Cosgrove – two of the officers who shot over 20 rounds into Breonna Taylor’s home the night of March 13th, and shot 8 bullets into Breonna Taylor’s body – were justified in their actions, said Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
The third officer, Brett Hankison, was indicted on wanton endangerment charges for shots that were fired into nearby apartments. He was not convicted of any crimes pertaining to the killing of Breonna Taylor. Hankison was fired from the force months after he participated in the murder of Breonna Taylor.
Ben Crump, the attorney for Breonna Taylor’s family, called the ruling outrageous and offensive.“If Brett Hankison’s behavior was wanton endangerment to people in neighboring apartments, then it should have been wanton endangerment in Breonna Taylor’s apartment too. In fact, it should have been ruled wanton murder!”
Signs Of The Verdict To Come
The verdict in the case, though infuriating, is not surprising. Several incidents throughout the past week cued how the verdict would come down from the court. Last night, an unusually righteous and public statement was sent from the former Sargent Brett Mattingly. His email, sent to over 1,000 officers called protestors thugs, claimed that the FBI/government were unethically enforcing civil rights violations and that he was on the side of good.
Last week, a settlement of 10 million dollars was given to Breonna Taylor’s family from the City of Louisville as a form of restitution for her wrongful death. Activist Tamika Mallory called on the city to still deliver justice to the officers in addition to the restitution money, which might otherwise be perceived as money used to appease and cover up their own crimes.
“A settlement is restitution. But it is not arresting the cops,” Tamika Mallory said during a press interview at the Breonna Taylor settlement press conference. Mallory went on to explain that though restitution was a gesture to signify the importance of Breonna Taylor’s life, the police officers involved – including Joshua Jaynes, who issued the questionable no-knock warrant that sent police officers into the home of Breonna Taylor – needed to be arrested.
A System Designed To Criminalize Black Women
The Breonna Taylor verdict is part of an ugly American legacy in which Black women’s lives have no legal protection in our criminal system. From sexual violence to domestic violence, to acts self-defense – or in the case of Breonna Taylor, no crime at all – Black women are often given no legal protection and worse, punished for the crimes of others.
Eliza Orlins, a Manhattan public defender who is currently running to become New York City’s first District Attorney, explains, “A system that was never meant to serve Black women can’t fail them. So, I wouldn’t say, exactly, that the system has failed; it was designed to criminalize, punish, oppress, and marginalize people of color, and specifically Black women. And it’s working exactly as designed.”
Beatriz Beckford, the National Director of youth & education justice at MomsRising, expands on Eliza’s point in deeper context to the Breonna Taylor verdict, “Today’s grand jury decision is yet another painful reminder that so long as police accountability is in question — the American legal system has no interest in delivering justice to Black women. Instead, we are ignored, undervalued, and routinely denied protection.”
Breonna Taylor’s killer, Brett Hankison, charged with Class D felony: wanton endangerment in the first degree, max of 1 to 5 years in prison. $15,000 cash bond. No other officers charged. Once again, our “justice” system shows it’s designed to protect the powerful. #BreonnaTaylor
— Eliza Orlins (@elizaorlins) September 23, 2020
Despite being the victim of misguided and unregulated police actions, the mishandling – or perhaps more aptly – the designed handling of Taylor’s death, displays how the system perpetuates the lack of legal consciousness in upholding Black women’s lives.
“There is no recourse or justice for Breonna Taylor, or the many other Black women who’ve been victims of state-violence, within a system so inherently unequal,” Beckford, goes on to explain.
“As long as officers who commit crimes are not held accountable, none of our communities are safe, and Black people and women will never be able to live free from the fear of police violence and white supremacy.”