Breonna Taylor: The Justice System Has Failed Once Again


Anthony Abrahantes

Breonna Taylor’s case was recently presented to the Grand Jury but the decision made failed to give her justice that she and her family deserves.

Leidi-Di Salcedo-Urena, Staff Writer

2020 will be a year marked down in history. From the ongoing pandemic to the immense police brutality in the United States, everyday seems to bring about another event. On Mar. 13, a young black woman, Breonna Taylor, was wrongfully murdered by policemen in Louisville, Kentucky. After months of protesting and pleading, Breonna Taylor’s case went to the grand jury, with their decision being released a week ago, on Sep. 23. The verdict ended up placing Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove off the hook completely and charging Brett Hankinson with wanton endangerment. Rather than being charged for the murder of an innocent 26-year-old woman, they were charged for the shots that missed her and struck the neighbor’s door. Needless to say, many Americans are infuriated with the decision. Mattingly, Cosgrove and Hankinson should have been charged with murder following the avoidable death of Breonna Taylor.

“I was disappointed to see the lack of importance they gave about her death. They basically said her death barely mattered,” freshman Mauricio Quesada said.

The premise of Breonna Taylor’s case is that a 26-year-old Emergency Medical Technician was shot in her home in Kentucky after three officers, Brett Hankinson, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, came into her home at 12:44 a.m. with no announcement and no search warrant. They used a battering ram to break into Breonna Taylor’s home as they suspected her to be involved with others in a drug case. Apparently, drugs were being sold out of her apartment by two men, one of which had been in on and off relationships with Taylor. At the time, the man they were looking for was already in police custody, which raises the question of why they were there in the first place. It is also important to note that this ex-boyfriend was offered a plea deal if he said that Taylor was a criminal and took part in illegal activities.

Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, heard a loud bang on the door and did not hear an announcement from the officers. Albeit even if they did, he would not have been able to hear them from that distance. The officers claim that they did announce themselves. This is a major discrepancy and the neighbors’ claims only added to the confusion. Two claim that there was no announcement and another three gave separate accounts in which they appeared confused on whether there was an ID. Walker used his licensed handgun to shoot Lt. Mattingly on the thigh, and in return, these three officers fire 10 rounds. The officers claimed that they saw a rifle or an AR-15, but the official report disproves this. Another inconsistency lies in how many rounds each officer claimed they shot, one claiming he shot four when he actually fired 16. Taylor did not die on impact, however she did not receive any medical attention however because the officers prioritized Mattingly’s wound. No drugs were found in the apartment as it was not searched.

The investigation and search were handled very poorly on the officer’s behalf. It was 1:00 a.m. and her boyfriend was a licensed gun owner- the police should have been aware of this because they had access to these records. Walker was well within his right to use his weapon as self defense as he felt he was in danger, with Kentucky’s “Stand your Ground” law supporting this. The law states that if you feel like your life is at risk, you can use your weapon to prevent further bodily harm. Self defense only seemed to be a problem when it was a black man trying to defend his family from what could have been a potential intruder. When Taylor was struck, help did not come immediately. In addition to this, all these inconsistencies between the official report and the testimonies added onto the fact that there is no bodycam footage of the actual raid. The bodycam footage we do have potentially shows these officers violating policy, further proving that this situation could and should have been handled better.

Her death made headlines on several national news channels and it did not take long for some people to do an incredible injustice to Breonna Taylor and her family in mourning. While every household in America has at least heard the name, sometimes they heard it for the wrong reasons. Her name became a punchline and as the internet does, they memed her death. This also gave rise to heavy misinformation and the blatant disrespect of this woman. People denied her EMT job and claimed that she herself was a drug dealer, despite there being no evidence in favor of this.

“I think if all the people trying to profit off her put their efforts into raising awareness and getting justice for Breonna as they claimed to be doing, then the court would have taken the case more seriously,” senior Alma Martinez said.

After the grand verdict came out, it is clear the case was presented and handled completely incorrectly. This was what led to the original release of the grand jury audio files, something that is usually kept secret. According to one of jurors, the Grand Jury was never given an option to indict the officers on criminal charges and were only presented with Hankison’s wanton endangerment charge. The attorney general did not give the grand jury any recommendation for murder charges for the other two officers, despite the fact that the public demanded it. Taylor did not “instigate” nor did she fire a weapon in self defense, so the attorney general should have at least considered possible murder charges. Now that the audios have been released, more questions are arising and demands for justice are only getting louder.

Racial disparities in the justice system make it very difficult for black police brutality victims to get the justice that they deserve. It also does not help that officers are very hard to convict in general because if they take action against a civilian displaying a weapon, it cannot be told for certain whether or not it was truly for self defense. One example of a police brutality case that ended up in an acquittal is the case of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old boy shot after George Zimmerman “mistook” a pack of Skittles for a gun. He was acquitted and is free today, 25 thousand dollars in his pocket after auctioning the gun and signing Skittles packets for a living. We should not let Breonna Taylor’s case fall in the same way. Fight for Breonna Taylor in any way you can, whether that means protesting peacefully, signing petitions or contacting government officials.