The Justice System Failed Breonna Taylor — Again
No officers were charged directly with Breonna Taylor's murder. The Jefferson Couty grand jury indicted only one officer with first-degree wanton endangerment, leaving two officers without charges.
The Breonna Taylor Memorial in downtown Louisville on Tuesday (@RyanVanVelzar / Twitter)
In March, three officers stormed into Breonna Taylor’s apartment in the middle of the night. They shot her not once, but eight times, while she was in bed.
Six months later, the murder of Breonna Taylor boils the blood of the nation in a fury that an innocent Black woman was killed without warrant, without mercy, without a scrimmage of humanity to be seen.
Only one officer has been charged — Brett Hankison was indicted with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.
What is wanton endangerment anyway?
Wanton endangerment in the first degree is applied to someone who expresses deliberate and extreme indifference to the value of human life, resulting in severe injury or the threat of death, and not death itself.
In other words, the only officer charged has not been charged with the murder of Breonna Taylor, he has been charged for blindly shooting into neighboring apartments.
According to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the officers’ fired shots in Breonna’s apartment were deemed “justified” because Breonna’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot first after assuming the officers were robbers. (Let me remind you: the police entered the apartment without identifying themselves and without stating their reason for entering.)
The charge is not only an insult to Breonna Taylor and her family but a gross trivialization of the act that occurred. The charge represents yet another example of the lack of justice existing within our justice system.
And it’s clear that the city of Louisville knows what they’re doing is unjust. Tuesday, the Louisville Police Department restricted access to the Louisville downtown area. Before the grand jury announcement Wednesday, Louisville mayor Greg Fischer issued a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and the Louisville Police Department announced the US National Guard had been activated.
And the public is just as outraged, if not more, than they expected.
Since March, massive protests have occurred as demonstrators demanded appropriate punishment for the officers that murdered her. As of July 16th, 435 protesters were arrested in Louisville alone.
The powerful protests in the movement’s epicenter made waves throughout the country, making her case one of the most widely known injustices in modern American history.
On Wednesday as the bitter news of injustice sweeps the country, prominent figures such as Martin Luther King III and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar have expressed their shock at the outright offensive ruling.
Many have sharpened their focus on the singular charge applied to Brett Hankinson. Those outraged have pointed out that an apartment wall has received more justice than a Black life.
That an apartment wall matters more than a Black life.
Yes, some could say Louisville has given some remorse for the Taylor family.
In June, Breonna’s Law was unanimously passed in Lousiville to ban the “no-knock” warrants that allowed officers to forcibly enter Breonna’s apartment in the first place.
Last week, the City of Louisville granted the Taylor family a $12 million settlement for the wrongful-death lawsuit the family filed. The settlement also included the agreement that changes in the police system would be made, like increasing oversight by head commanders and flagging officers who have been accused of excessive force.
But the lack of justice illustrated by the City of Louisville goes to show that there’s only so much performative activism can do.
While the features on O Magazine and Vanity Fair covers and the commemorative murals have been gratifying gestures, the charges placed on Wednesday show they are simply not enough.
The pastel Instagram art and disrespectful Twitter memes of Breonna Taylor were never enough.
And that’s why protects will continue to ensue in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The mayor of Louisville himself, Greg Fischer, has insisted that “the case is far from over.”
“Justice for Breonna Taylor must be about more than the decision that was announced earlier today by the attorney general,” he said. “Justice for Breonna also means a commitment to eliminating systematic and structural racism in our city, in our country.”
The passion to fight for justice, after all, is not one that can be quelled easily.
Lauren Rousseau is the Online Editor for Rowdy Magazine. She likes watching drug-store versions of The Bachelor and baking cookies at inappropriate hours. You can find her on Instagram at @laurenxrousseau and pitch her stories at firstname.lastname@example.org
Christelle Pierre is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. When not writing, one can find Christelle holding a YA novel in one hand and an iced coffee in the other. She can be reached on Instagram @x.hristelle
Veronica Nocera is a Staff Writer at Rowdy Magazine. Her simple pleasures include hoarding stationary, rewatching 90s rom coms, and romanticizing the lives of 20th century female authors. She's intensely passionate about the power of language, social justice, and the overlap between past and present. You can reach her at email@example.com for more info!