Wanton endangerment: that is what Brett Hankison was indicted for.
Twenty-two shots were fired blindly into the home of Breonna Taylor on the night of March 13. Six bullets entered her body, and took her life. Hankison has been indicted for the crime of “recklessly firing his gun during a raid.” The former Louisville, Kentucky, police detective, in the eyes of the grand jury, posed harm to the Taylor's neighbors with his negligent shots on March 13, thus he is being chaged with a felony , yet the two police officers that gunned down and killed Breonna Taylor in her own home come out of this with no retribution against them, no justice for Breonna Taylor. The walls of Breonna Taylor's home got more justice than her. The white family that lived next door got more justice than her.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron stated in a news conference that “If we simply act on outrage, there is no justice — mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”
Attorney General Cameron, you cannot reprimand violence and praise justice when it was the violent actions of the officers that killed Breonna Taylor and your office’s incompetence in serving justice that allowed those men to walk freely. To look at this indictment as anything but unjust denies the reality of racism that feeds the police brutality plaguing this country. To claim "mob justice" is to ignore the pleas of a fractured community desperately trying to open your eyes to the state-funded violence that has snatched the lives of countless Black people. To tout "revenge" is to devalue the fact that these lives are being taken in vain, and the police officers taking these lives are doing so with minds rooted in hate and fear, whether they know it or not.
Before the decision on criminal charges was reached, the Louisville mayor declared a state of emergency “due to potential for civil unrest,” according to NPR. Since the mayor claims he had no knowledge of when Attorney General Cameron’s decison was going to be announced, why was he preparing for the worst?
If he was confident that justice was served, why would he fear unrest?
According to The New York Times, Hankison’s letter of dismissal from the force stated that he showed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he shot 10 rounds without clearly seeing what was behind a door and window covered with blinds.
What has to be said about this egregious crime is that the outcome does not rely on the will and actions of Attorney General Cameron, or even the grand jury that made the final decision. The truth is, our justice system is constructed to protect police officers above all else, even when they act with indifference, carelessness or even hate.
This decision has sparked outrage and disgust in the people of the United States who value Black lives and demand that the justice system do the same.
As quoted in The New York Times, Linda Sarsour, a protestor in Louisville, told a reporter that this decision “tells people, cops can kill you in the sanctity of your own home.”
Recently, Taylor’s family received a $12 million settlement from the city of Louisville for wrongful death, according to The New York Times. How can a murder deemed wrongful city leaders, yet see no further justice from the same system? How can a life, taken well before its time, be quantified with an arbitrary amount? How can you expect a community to heal when you refuse true retribution?
In the nearly 200 days since the death of Breonna Taylor, her name has become larger than life. Her name has been used to promote businesses and prove one's social fitness. Her life has been trivialized into 13 letters. Our society belittles Black death and blackBlack trauma, and the commodification of Taylor’s death highlights this. In a now viral tweet, Twitter user @ThisBeLi points this out:
She was used for everything. Used to promote everything. Used to make people look good and socially conscious. Used to promote parties. Used for memes. Used as an example. Used and used and used. And even with all of this, she didn’t get the one thing she needed. Justice.— BLACK FEMALE LEAD (@ThisBeLi) September 23, 2020
The front page of Hulu shows a documentary called, "The New York Times Presents: The Killing of Breonna Taylor." Seeing this examination into the crime that took this woman's life amid the decision that has let Taylor's killers off is a stark reminder of the white supremacy, racism and injustice deeply ingrained in this country.
What happened in Louisville was wrong, but at this point in American history, it is not unexpected. Breonna Taylor is not a headline, a punch line, a meme, a call for action, a rallying cry, a hashtag, a tool for capitalist gain, or an example of the reality of police negligence in the country. Breonna Taylor didn't deserve to die six months ago, and her life should not be minimized. Breonna Taylor was a sister, she was a daughter, she was a friend, she was a hero, and she deserved so much more. She deserved to live, she deserved to wake up in the morning, she deserved a long and happy life, she deserved to grow old and frail, she deserved justice. This country has failed Breonna Taylor, and Breonna, we are so sorry.