Although the Attorney General’s findings and facts related to the recent charges in the Breonna Taylor case are up for debate, at least one takeaway is clear — the law itself is not always moral.
In our office alone, we at The Alestle have a wide range of opinions about the charges brought by the Attorney General. While our opinions vary in regard to whether the Attorney General completed the federal investigation to the best of his ability, we are in agreement about the differences between the law and morality.
If we were to assume the Attorney General did his job, that would mean he could not have brought further charges among the officers. Whether or not he did his job to the best of his ability is being discussed not only in The Alestle office, but also all across the country. Either way, the lack of severe charges in the case highlights a problem regarding the morality of law. The system as a whole should be reevaluated to better accommodate the value of human life.
Of the three officers involved in the fatal narcotics raid at Taylor’s home, only former Louisville detective Brett Hankison was indicted by the grand jury on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. Each wanton endangerment charge carries a sentence of up to five years.
Wanton endangerment indicates that an individual engaged in conduct with a high risk of death or serious physical injury to another individual under circumstances with low regard for human life.
In the events leading up to Taylor’s death, a warrant with a no-knock provision was approved by Jefferson Circuit Judge Mary Shaw.
While it was debated whether Taylor’s home had been identified in the warrant, an affidavit for the search warrant revealed both Taylor’s apartment and Social Security numbers were listed. Detective Joshua Jaynes, who obtained the no-knock warrant, wrote that he had witnessed Jamarcus Glover, one of the primary suspects in the narcotics investigation, retrieve a package from Taylor’s home and had used the address as his own on several documents.
Once the warrant was approved, three officers were assigned to orchestrating the raid.
Although police and prosecutors said the officers announced themselves as police prior to entering the home, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, says he never heard the officers announce themselves. Neighbors have stated they did not hear them either.
According to Walker’s arrest citation, he fired a single shot at 12:43 a.m. under the assumption that intruders were breaking into the home. The bullet struck Sgt. Jonathon Mattingly’s leg, and officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove returned fire — with more than 20 rounds.
The coroner’s office pronounced Taylor’s time of death at 12:48 a.m., only five minutes after the first shot was fired. The cause of death was six gunshot wounds to her body.
The subsequent drug search revealed no drugs within the home. Neither Taylor nor Walker have any drug offenses in their records. Although Taylor and Glover had prior romantic involvement, there was no evidence beyond the package retrieval to indicate Taylor had any involvement with the narcotics investigation against Glover.
Since the raid, Louisville’s Metro Council voted unanimously to ban no-knock warrants in a law named “Breonna’s Law.”
However, this provision and the outcome of the court proceedings do not bring justice to Taylor’s death. A 26-year-old emergency room technician, Taylor had an entire life ahead of her — which should have never been ended by the onslaught of six bullets.
Even though we at The Alestle debate our own desired outcomes of the case, we are all in agreement about the reprehensible actions of the officers, both leading up to and during the raid. Despite the court ruling, we all believe Taylor’s death was an injustice – from a moral standpoint.