LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — A night of civil unrest in Louisville unfolded yesterday after it was announced that no formal charges would be brought against any of the officers involved in the tragic shooting death of Breonna Taylor. Justice advocates across the country have been demanding action in Taylor’s case for months, and when it was announced yesterday that the only charges filed would be for the shots fired by officers that did not even strike Ms. Taylor, tensions boiled over.
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As reported by The Washington Post, the grand jury did indict one officer for “wanton endangerment,” however no charges tied directly to Taylor’s death will be filed.
A grand jury in Jefferson County, Ky., has indicted a former Louisville police detective on three charges of wanton endangerment in the first degree in the March 13 shooting that resulted in the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. Brett Hankison, one of three officers involved, was fired by the department in June, with a termination letter saying he “wantonly and blindly” shot 10 times into Taylor’s apartment. He is accused of endangering lives in a neighboring unit after firing the rounds. (WaPo)
The decision by the grand jury underscores what could end up being an important subject in this year’s presidential election. There have been weeks of sustained protest, sometimes turning violent, over what many are calling the systemic bias and discrimination inherent in most policing operations in America today. Some have noted the juxtaposition of charging an officer for firing bullets that entered other apartments, endangering more people other than Taylor, while not charging anyone for the bullets that actually struck and killed Taylor, seems like quite a slap in the face to those who demand accountability and equity from police officers and law enforcement agents in general.
At a press conference today, the district attorney for the county Louisville is in, Thomas Wine, tried to offer some insights into the situation.
“I think, ultimately, what we’re seeing here is that in Kentucky, we value black lives,” Wine said, “but we value unblemished drywall just a bit more.”
Sensing that he might need to offer a little more nuance and explanation, Wine quickly tried to add more context.
“Listen, listen, hear me out, okay! We all think black lives matter around here, okay? I’ll say it. Black lives matter,” Wine said. “but drywall matters enough to charge someone. I’m sorry, but that’s just how we do things here in Louisville. If Ms. Taylor had been a sheet of clean, unblemished drywall, I can promise you that we’d be charging the officers who shot her then.”
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.