I’ve been reading https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/08/08/why-it-s-not-so-simple-to-arrest-the-cops-who-shot-breonna-taylor and it finally crystalized what I think about this.
When bad things happen, it is because the cops are bad or because the laws are bad. In every case, there needs to be visible change.
I don’t think this case is about racist cops. Now the reason for the warrant at all might be racist, but these
police officers, storm troopers, uniformed thugs, whatever didn’t target Breonna Taylor. They didn’t know she was there. They killed her by sheer incompetence and negligent behavior.
The Marshall Project article talks about a legal gray area regarding Kenneth Walker’s right to defend himself and the officers “right” to their self defense. I don’t buy it. The officers’ rights surely do not extend to firing 20 unaimed shots and killing innocent bystanders. At the very least, that level of wanton behavior warrants charges of negligent homicide or manslaughter.
It seems to me that either the officers are guilty of criminal behavior or the laws are wrong. An outcome of “oops, we’ll do better training” just doesn’t cut it when trigger happy cops conduct no-knock warrants and kill innocent people.
As far as I can tell, when police make “mistakes” or are grossly incompetent, they are not held accountable. That is wrong. Even when police are not held criminally responsible, they generally have no civil liability either, due to the court created qualified immunity doctrine. That has to change too.
- If they can’t be charged, then Kentucky laws need to change.
- Congress must write law getting rid of qualified immunity. I am happy with suing the department rather than the individuals, but there must be civil accountability in addition to criminal. Very large damage awards should be routine.
- No knock warrants must be outlawed
- Judges should be held accountable for rubber stamping thin search warrants
- Prosecutors and police must be help accountable for any false or misleading statements on warrant applications.
- Police who make mistakes with guns should not have guns. If they can’t be fired they should be put on desk duty for the remainder of their careers. They’ve proven in the most direct way possible they cannot be trusted on the street.
- There needs to be a national do not hire list. A fired police officer should never again work in law enforcement anywhere.
- I’ll even suggest a felony murder doctrine. All the officers on the raid are liable even if it is “one bad apple”, which it never is.
A grand jury in Kentucky has just declined to lay any criminal charges against the men who killed Brionna Taylor. I am disappointed and angry but not surprised.
Walker was justified in defending himself against home invaders. The police say it was not a no knock warrant, but they didn’t have cameras and their word that they announced the raid is not believable. In any event Walker didn’t know they were police. (And why have the raid in the middle of the night?).
Kentucky law says the police were justified in defending themselves, and so no criminal charges can apply. I understand the idea. I just think it is wrong and Kentucky law is an ass. As I said earlier, a fusillade of 20 shots which did not hit their intended target and which killed an innocent bystander cannot be a justified response. The city has agreed to a $12 million settlement, so they clearly understand the police’ actions were wrong.
As to the ruling, a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich if the DA wants them to. I must conclude that the DA handling the grand jury did not want any charges pressed. Charge the police and let them answer to a jury. If they are innocent the jury will so find.