Much of the nation sat in front of their screens to wait for positive news on the decision to charge police officers with the shooting death of Breonna Taylor as Black America collectively held its breath.
But it was not to be. Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, announced Wednesday that the grand jury decided only one police officer would be charged, not with shooting and killing Taylor, but with “wanton endangerment” of her neighbors with the reckless gunfire that claimed her life.
In the aftermath of the decision, people have once again taken to the streets to express outrage at the system, with protests flaring in Louisville, New York, Los Angeles, Rochester and other cities across the country.
“I know that not everyone will be satisfied with the charges that we reported today,” Cameron, who described Taylor’s death as a tragedy, told reporters in in press conference. “Every person has an idea of what they think justice is. My role, as special prosecutor in this case, is to set aside everything in pursuit of the truth. My job was to present the facts to the grand jury and the grand jury then applies those facts to the law.”
He added: “If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice. Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”
“Not only is he being intellectually dishonest about that, I find all of his remarks about this entire press conference offensive,” said Cheryl Dorsey, a retired sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department on MSNBC, referring to Cameron. “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.”
It’s curious that Cameron used the term “mob justice” to label African-American and white protestors who seek to have police officers who unjustifiably kill Black people to be held responsible for their actions.
The truth is, black people were often the victim of true mob justice in Kentucky and other Southern states, where racism-fueled, unofficial in the form of lynchings, beatings and terrorism was systematically used for decades, often working hand-in-hand with the criminal justice system. “Between 1882 and 1968, an estimated 4,742 blacks met their deaths at the hands of lynch mobs,” Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Leon F. Litwack wrote in his book “Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America.”
Cameron, a black Republican whose candidacy was endorsed by Donald Trump, has made many incendiary comments during this time of racial turmoil. He has called himself a “proud supporter of President Donald J. Trump,” someone who has historic of making racist comments; he has complain that “anarchists mindlessly tearing up American cities while attacking police and innocent bystanders” while peaceful black protesters seeking justice for Breonna Taylor in Louisville were met with a heavy-handed police response; he has referred to calls for racial equality and justice as an “all-out assault on western civilization.”
Police officers who kill citizens are rarely charged and less often convicted, since they are generally allowed to use deadly force in situation where they reasonably perceive an imminent threat — a broad standard that has been criticized by many as being far too subjective and easily prone to racial bias.
Given the current U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, a Trump sycophant, acts more like a private lawyer for White House, Inc., rather than an impartial voice for justice, there’s zero chance Breonna Taylor’s family will get justice on the federal level.
While the $12 million Ms. Taylor’s mother will receive from the City of Louisville will provide her with financial security, it will do nothing to provide her with a any sense of closure in knowing that those responsible for her daughter’s death will answer for their deed.
Remember, the details of this case.
Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, a licensed gun owner, were startled from their sleep and mistook police officers who broke through their apartment door while executing a warrant for an intruder. Walker fired his handgun in self-defense, striking one police officer in the thigh. Officers returned fire, shooting Taylor six times, killing her. Police officers entered her residence as the result of a shoddy narcotics investigation based on inaccurate information that her ex-boyfriend — who did not live in the apartment — was a petty drug dealer who stored illegal drugs there. No drugs were found.
Taylor was a 26-year-old emergency medical technician who worked on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives. She was not a criminal!
Responding to Daniel Cameron’s announcement of the grand jury decision, NBA star LeBron James issued the following statement: “We want Justice for Breonna yet justice was met for her neighbors apartment walls and not her beautiful life.”
Many of us had hoped that, just this once, justice would be on our side. But as the Breonna Taylor case reminds us all, that simply wasn’t to be.
The injustice continues.