OPINION: Why the Breonna Taylor decision has left me sad and frustrated

This Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, file photo shows a mural of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. For months, Taylor's name has been a rallying cry for Black activists who hoped Black women and their deaths at the hands of police would finally receive the same attention given to cases concerning the extrajudicial killing of Black men. AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File

Credit: Darron Cummings

Credit: Darron Cummings

I have no words.

Louisville police pump six of 32 fired bullets into Breonna Taylor’s body and no one is charged for the crime of killing her. No one.

Indeed, according to a juror in the case, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron didn’t offer grand jurors the option of indicting the two officers who shot her. I guess that means he thinks the $12 million the city of Louisville agreed to pay her family is payment enough for her death. I guess he doesn’t realize no amount of money can match the value of a life.

Want proof Black lives don’t matter, this is it. Want proof the system is broken and needs fixing, this is it.

Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old Black woman, an emergency room technician with aspirations of becoming a registered nurse, minding her own business in her own home. She did not own a gun. She didn’t disobey the police.

She and her dreams died in a hail of bullets during a drug raid gone wrong.

For that we learned recently, the only charges a Kentucky grand jury could muster were three counts of wanton endangerment against fired Officer Brett Hankison. Not in connection with Breonna’s death or her fellow Black tenants who also had gunshots flying through their homes, but for their white neighbors, according to a Facebook post by one of the attorneys for Taylor’s family.

I have no words.

ExploreI’m tired and I can’t breathe either

There is some good news. In June, city officials banned the use of no-knock warrants. Other changes, including the naming of a new police chief; a new requirement to always wear body cameras during the execution of search warrants; and the establishment of a civilian review board for police disciplinary matters, were announced by Mayor Greg Fischer to ensure more transparency and accountability.

In addition, the FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in connection with the March raid at Taylor’s home.

Ben Crump, a lawyer for Taylor’s family, quickly denounced the decision as “outrageous and offensive.”

Protesters took to the streets across the country, shouting, “No justice, no peace!”

Six months after officers entered her home on a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation, killing Breonna, this is what we get. Six months only to learn the investigation showed the officers announced themselves before entering. The warrant used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.

I have no words. Only sadness, frustrations and, disappointment.

ExploreThank you, Billy Porter, I needed that

Up until now, a big part of me believed that after the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, after Taylor’s case became a touchstone for nationwide protests, change surely would come.

I believed the wide gulf between public opinion on justice for those who kill Black Americans and the laws that regularly favor police would begin to narrow, especially in this case.

After all, Daniel Cameron, the state’s attorney general, is a Black man, born of a Black woman. He had to understand better than most what was at stake. He or his mom could’ve easily been Breonna Taylor. Surely he’d do right by her and make the case for a jury to decide if the cops should be held accountable.

Cameron announced, instead, that according to Kentucky law, the use of force by Officers Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves. Meanwhile, Breonna’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was charged with attempted murder of a police officer in connection with hitting Mattingly with a gunshot after the police burst in unannounced. (Walker and a number of neighbors have said in media interviews that they heard no announcement.) It didn’t take six months to charge him either.

I have no words.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron addresses the media following the return of a grand jury investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor, in Frankfort, Ky., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Of the three Louisville Metro police officers being investigated, one was indicted. AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

Credit: Timothy D. Easley

Credit: Timothy D. Easley

I should hasten to say prosecutors later dropped the charge. You see my point. There’s a double standard at play here.

Is it any wonder Breonna’s family has asked that Kentucky authorities release all body camera footage, police files and the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings that led to no charges in connection to this young woman’s death?

Hours after a member of the grand jury sued Monday to have the record of the proceedings opened to the public, Cameron agreed to release the recordings of the grand jury proceeding. On Wednesday, he had a change of heart and asked a court to delay the release of grand jury recordings by one week. The more than 15 hours of recordings were released around noon Friday, as required by a judge.

It’s anyone’s guess what will happen next.

Each week, Gracie Bonds Staples will bring you a perspective on life in the Atlanta area. Life with Gracie runs online Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.

I concede I cannot save anyone. It is not in my power to change anyone or change their circumstances.

I offer you these words from 2 Chronicles 7:14 in which God is responding to King Solomon’s prayer for forgiveness.

He tells Solomon: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Please, as we pray, ask for racial healing. We need it.

Today, that’s all I’ve got. Be blessed.

Find Gracie on Facebook (www.facebook.com/graciestaplesajc/) and Twitter (@GStaples_AJC) or email her at gstaples@ajc.com.

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