On March 13, 2020 healthcare worker Breonna Taylor died, not of coronavirus but at the hands of Louisville, Kentucky police officers.
The stated mission of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) is “…to deliver professional, effective services, fairly and ethically, at all times, to all people, in order to prevent crime, control crime and enhance the overall quality of life for citizens and visitors.” So why did Breonna Taylor die of 8 bullet wounds inflicted by LMPD police officers during a drug raid in her apartment where no drugs were found? Clearly, the LMPD failed to “enhance the overall quality” of her life or the lives of her bereaved family. Are there other victims? Are the officers of the LMPD themselves victims of incompetent leadership, unrealistic expectations and bad legislation? Are the citizens of Louisville victims? They will be expected to pay millions of dollars for the botched raid that killed Ms. Taylor. Are the people of Kentucky victims? The laws that predestined this tragedy are still on the books.
Breonna Taylor is dead. Her boyfriend has been charged with attempted murder of a police officer. A mother has lost her child. A police officer was wounded in the line of duty. The Governor has called for a federal investigation of the LMPD. An unidentified judge may have been misled by false information before signing the “no-knock warrant”. Careers will likely be ruined. Lawsuits will cost millions. The conflicting laws that set the stage for this tragedy were passed by the Kentucky General Assembly and are still on the books. All of this could have been avoided.
The Kentucky General Assembly needs to accept its share of the blame for the violation of Ms. Taylor’s primary unalienable right, her right to life. The General Assembly has made tragedies like this inevitable by passing a lethal concoction of laws that have resulted in death or trauma to both police officers and the citizens they are sworn to protect.
The General Assembly has passed Kentucky’s “stand your ground” law which allows citizens to use deadly force to protect themselves from intruders. The Assembly has also legalized “no-knock warrants” that permit law officers to force their way into residences without announcing themselves as police officers. This makes the police officers look a lot like the intruders that citizens are allowed to shoot in self defense. Kenneth Walker, Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend, did just that. After calling 9-1-1 to report the break-in Mr. Walker fired one round, hitting a police sergeant in the leg.
The current Kentucky General Assembly endorses the failed “war on drugs” which sends police officers into dangerous situations, sometimes against armed criminals, to enforce ineffective prohibition laws. The General Assembly is risking the lives of police officers in a battle that they can’t win. During its 2020 session the General Assembly even failed to decriminalize the use of medicinal cannabis to alleviate pain for cancer patients, veterans with PTSD and opioid victims. If these suffering individuals buy, grow or use marijuana the General Assembly has passed laws to imprison and/or fine them. The Legislature is overreaching and out of touch with the citizens of Kentucky who were recently polled by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. 90% of Kentuckians said they are in favor of allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. 60% are in favor of adults using marijuana for any purposes. But the Assembly fails to represent the wishes of the people in the misguided pursuit of being tough on drugs, regardless of the consequences.
Voters of Kentucky need to hold the General Assembly accountable. To do that they will need answers in order to enact the changes necessary to avoid the next inevitable tragedy of this kind. They need the answers before the General Election, November 3, 2020.
Why did police officers crash into Ms. Taylor’s apartment when the person they were searching for was already in police custody?
Were police misled by an informant?
Knowing the inherent dangers, why was a “no-knock warrant” requested?
What are LMPD’s procedures regarding “no-knock warrants”?
Who authorized the “no-knock warrant”? What was he/she told about the need for this dangerous type of warrant?
Why weren’t police officers in uniform?
Why didn’t police officers wear body cameras when crashing into the apartment?
What is LMPD’s procedure for the use of body cameras? Were those procedures followed?
Why did police shoot an unarmed person eight times?
Who will keep Kentuckians safe from government overreach and force?
How many more innocent bystanders need to die before the Kentucky General Assembly ends prohibition and the failed “war on drugs”?
How will Kentuckians neutralize the lethal concoction of laws that still endangers them and their police officers?