The Breonna Taylor mystery

UPDATE: My Chicago colleague Brian Leiter has a short post on his website about the indictments, which he thinks constitute a fair resolution. He blames the death of Taylor not on the involved cops, but on the system, which includes guns, a history of racism that leads to poverty and crime, and no-knock warrants. A brief excerpt:

The media, unfortunately, have linked these cases of police killings, even though they have almost nothing in common.  And now, unsurprisingly, a Louisville grand jury has failed to indict any of the officers involved in the no-knock raid that led to Ms. Taylor’s death (by contrast, the officer that killed Mr. Floyd was quickly and rightly indicted, although he is planing an aggressive defense).  The failure to indict any officer for the killing of Ms. Taylor is unsurprising because:  (1) a judge had authorized the raid and the warrant to search the apartment because of Ms. Taylor’s sometime-boyfriend, a suspected drug dealer, and (2) when the police entered the apartment, the boyfriend fired on the police (he did not know they were police), wounding one officer; the police returned fire, resulting in Ms. Taylor’s death.  On these facts, it’s hard to see how any officer was culpable for Ms. Taylor’s death.  Louisville subsequently banned no-knock raids, which undoubtedly contributed mightily to the cascading calamity resulting in her death.

. . .  Since that is the reality in the U.S.–extreme poverty and desperation, combined with a proliferation of weapons–the real question has to be what institutional and systemic reforms will minimize situations ripe for tragedies like the killing of Ms. Taylor.  Eliminating the no-knock raid is probably one, and the sociologist Randall Collins has identified some others.   Of course, eliminating poverty and restricting access to firearms would be even more important, but that would require real political and economic change in the country that elected Donald Trump.

h/t: Greg

____________________

I don’t consider myself particularly well informed on the Breonna Taylor incident, which, as you know, prompted big protests in Louisville, Kentucky (and the rest of America) last night. I’ve read the newspaper articles about it (e.g., here, here, and here, and many others), as well as the Wikipedia page, and still don’t know how to regard the killing of Ms. Taylor.

As you know, Taylor, 26, was killed on March 13 of this year after being shot six times by one police officer, part of a group of three executing a search warrant on Taylor’s apartment, where she was staying on that night with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. The search was authorized because Walker was thought to not only be a drug dealer, but also to hobnob with drug dealers, and because Taylor had dated one of the other drug merchants before taking up with Walker. (The police tracked Walker to Taylor’s apartment.) When the police entered Taylor’s apartment, Walker, thinking the intruder might be Taylor’s former drug-dealer boyfriend,T fired a legal weapon in self defense, he says, and the police fired back, killing Taylor. Several shots from one cop also went into an adjacent apartment, leading to the sole charge in the case: three charges of “wanton endangerment” against the single cop who fired the errant shots. Each charge carries a maximum of five years in jail. The other two policemen were not charged, and this apparently lenient result led to the protests.

I’m on the fence about all this because the details are hazy and because of the absence of evidence that could have been there, and the secrecy of the grand jury, I don’t know them. Perhaps, given the absence of bodycams, none of us will ever know the important details.

On the side of the charges being way too light we have this:

  • The warrant was originally a “no knock” warrant in which the cops could simply bust their way into Taylor’s apartment. Before the raid this was changed to the requirement that the police announce themselves and knock before entering. Some neighbors testify that they did not hear police announce themselves.
  • The city has settled a civil suit by paying the Taylor family $12 million, which (though standards of evidence are lower for civil suits) implies that Louisville recognized that the police bore some culpability.
  • If the police didn’t announce themselves and didn’t knock as per the requirement, then Walker would seem to have been justified in firing at police. In that case, the ultimate killing of Taylor would be a result of police misbehavior.
  • The city waited for months before charging the police with a crime (I understand, though, that a federal investigation is underway.)
  • No drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment (apparently there wasn’t even a concerted search for them), and there’s this from Wikipedia about the supposed involvement of Walker in drug dealing, which bears on the validity of the search warrant:

Specifically, the warrant alleges that in January 2020, Glover left Taylor’s apartment with an unknown package, presumed to be drugs, and subsequently went to a known drug apartment with this package soon afterward. This warrant states that this event was verified “through a US Postal Inspector.” In May 2020, the U.S. postal inspector in Louisville publicly announced that the collaboration with law enforcement had never actually occurred. The postal office stated they were actually asked to monitor packages going to Taylor’s apartment from a different agency, but after doing so, they concluded, “There’s [sic] no packages of interest going there.” The public revelation put the investigation and especially the warrant into question and resulted in an internal investigation. No drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment after the warrant was executed.

and, finally, this:

  • The real person suspected of drug dealing was already in police custody by the time they executed a warrant on Walker’s apartment.

On the side of the charges being appropriate, or not involving racism, we have this:

  • One neighbor said he did hear the police announce themselves. We don’t know for sure because the cops weren’t wearing bodycams. (Why isn’t this required for all cops in situations like this one?)
  • The protests, if not the killing of Taylor, is deemed “racist” because she was black and the three police officers were white. Yet the charges were brought by a grand jury that likely included black jurors. Who, then, is the object of the protestors’ ire? The cops, the grand jury, or the system?
  • We don’t know what evidence was presented to the grand jury, and it may not emerge during a trial for “wanton endangerment”.
  • The attorney general of Kentucky who announced the charges, Daniel Cameron, is black. (Against that people will say, well, he’s a black Republican, which he is.) Cameron was visibly upset when announcing the charges, choking up when he talked about his own family as well as Taylor’s.
  • Legal experts in Kentucky, including some black ones, say that the cops were justified in defending themselves once someone had fired at them.
  • Some of the jurors who voted to bring the lighter charges were likely black, though we won’t know.

So we have conflicting claims about several items bearing critically on what happened, and no tangible evidence in the form of bodycam footage. Presumably a grand jury brings charges if they think there might be sufficient evidence to convict the cops of homicide, and apparently they didn’t think sufficient evidence existed. The proceedings are sealed, so we won’t know what happened.

What I’ve written above is what I’ve distilled from reading about the case, and I may have made a few errors or left out crucial information. If so, please correct or supplement what I’ve written.

I can conclude only that I’d know better what to think had I been on the grand jury. But I’m not at all convinced that the killing of Taylor was a racist act. How could it be, when the cops opened fire at an unknown person who was shooting at them? Taylor’s killing might be seen as part of a pattern of white police killing black citizens, but this is not a George Floyd-like incident in which accusations of racist cops are at least plausible.

Anyway, I’m sure many readers have their own opinions of the police’s guilt, and about whether the protests, which were largely peaceful but did have some violence (two police officers were shot), were justified. Weigh in below.

Here’s Taylor, who was formerly an emergency medical technician:

Photo courtesy of the family of Breonna Taylor, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

124 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    IMO the bar for charging cops is simply too high. The details of this case hardly matter to the overall problem the country faces.

  2. phoffman56
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    In any civilized country (especially if there is no emergency e.g. because of hostages), if one or a few cops are shot at when trying to do a legal search or similar, they back off a bit, get major reinforcements, try to clear away any other people, and then the culprit is persuaded or starved into surrendering peacefully.

    But not in Kentucky, hardly surprising.

    What is needed is demonstrating, and then voting, for moving into the civilization during the last century or two of most other ‘western’ countries.

    • EdwardM
      Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      I am not making excuse for these cops but that strategy by the “civilized” countries is very often just as likely to get people killed, innocent or otherwise. It really isn’t rocket science; unlike rocketry, it is exceedingly difficult to make reliable predictions about the outcomes of these kinds of highly dynamic situations. Leaving the scene of a shooting to wait for backup can result in bad situations becoming REALLY very much worse. It totally depends on the conditions at hand and on Monday mornings we are, all of us, very good quarterbacks.

      For the record and cred – I personally have had nothing but bad experiences with cops (not one has treated me like a human, rather more like something deserving of belligerence and fury) so I don’t give a damn about them personally, but I would not, in a million years, want their job.

      • eric
        Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        that strategy by the “civilized” countries is very often just as likely to get people killed, innocent or otherwise.

        Superficially, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Just going by wikipedia’s entry of cop killings per capita by country, looking at Canada and the UK for comparison, and recognizing that the US numbers themselves are probably very squishy as we don’t do a good job of recording police shootings, the numbers are:
        US: 30.8 (per 10 million people)
        Canada: 9.7
        UK: 0.5

        • Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          Those data need to be normalized. Maybe by count of guns in civilian hands per capita?

          • phoffman56
            Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

            If I understand correctly, you are saying that, if every present gun is duplicated with an extra one for the owner to own, then the proper statistic for murder-by-gun rate in the US would suddenly drop to half what it was???
            (Or at least till the new guns made things even worse down there)

            Do I misunderstand that you think this murder per gun should replace murder per capita?

            If a place like Japan really has zero guns in civilian hands, they would then have a murder rate of infinity, right? Really dangerous place, you’d be certain to be shot dead as soon as you stepped out of the plane, despite there being no guns to do it with. And somewhat less dramatic in other countries.

            On the other hand, with that statistic all you’d need is one USian to have effectively infinitely many guns and the US rate would become zero. Sounds a bit like Trump saying not to count covid cases in order that his US covid murder rate looks real good.

            I realize that the non-existing “infinity” makes the two extreme cases above non-existent, but the endpoints make the point.

            One part of a country being civilized of course is having decent gun laws, in particular better than we have here in Canada. Things may have improved somewhat now that USians crossing north is pretty much forbidden with covid.

        • EdwardM
          Posted September 24, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          I’ll only say that statistics don’t help here. For one thing, the US is NOT Canada or any other “civilized”* country. I don’t mean that to dismiss your point (which is rather central to the number of gun deaths here), only that MY point is that what civilized people might do isn’t always the best approach, even in civilized places. The kinds of situations cops find themselves in can be extremely difficult to manage. Add in the huge pile of guns here in the good ol’ US of A and what civilized people might do under those circumstance could go very wrong.

          * an aside; IMO using the vagaries of word meanings to sneer at others is an easy form of criticism but it is also the lowest.

          • phoffman56
            Posted September 25, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

            The question is whether the criticism is accurate, which it is, as you yourself are saying.

            Others interpreting it as a sneer is water off a duck’s back for me.

        • Posted September 25, 2020 at 4:29 am | Permalink

          The low number for the UK is almost certainly because nobody has a gun. In the scenario we are discussing here, nobody would have opened fire on the police when they went in because nobody would have had a gun.

          In the USA, the police have to assume that the suspect they are trying to apprehend is armed. This means they have to go in with weapons at the ready and the potential for getting shot means that tension is already very high. I’m really surprised that this sort of thing doesn’t happen every day in the USA.

  3. eric
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    the warrant was originally a “no knock” warrant in which the cops could simply bust their way into Walker’s apartment. Before the raid this was changed to the requirement that the police announce themselves and knock before entering. Some neighbors testify that they did not hear police announce themselves.

    My understanding is that the police used a battering ram on the door, and the entry occurred between midnight and 1am.

    To me, whether they announced themselves or not, that’s effectively a no-knock warrant. Anyone can yell “police” before battering down your door. If the residents were asleep, they very conceivably might not have heard or understood the announcement, rather the thing they are responding to is the crash of the door being broken. So what the boyfriend did was, IMO, self-defense, regardless of whether they yelled ‘police’ before entering or not.

    As I said on the daily post, I think the main issue with this case was the way police conducted the raid (i.e. essentially no-knock, after midnight, forced entry, etc.). The judiciary should IMO be a lot less trusting in providing such warrants/allowing such entries. Because once the police decide to do that, the chances are that the residents are going to respond like they’re being attacked and the probability of someone in the apartment getting killed goes up dramatically

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Well said. I know next to nothing about this, but forced entry can scare anyone, and raise the probability of harm.

    • eric
      Posted September 24, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Ah I forgot to address the key question of the post, which is (summarizing) ‘where is the racism’?

      IMO the racism in this case is on the part of the system, in the the way the bust was set up. Consider, JAC, if for whatever reason someone the police suspected of dealing drugs visited your house (say, for instance, that one of your friends was dealing drugs, unbeknownst to you). What do you think would be the police’s response? Well, they’d likely knock politely on your door during daytime hours, and ask if they can come in and ask you a few questions. Why that response? Because you’re comparatively well off, white, well-educated, etc. These things get you the polite knock and the ‘can we come in and ask you a few questions.’ OTOH, being black, not so well off, not so educated, with the same suspicion of a drug dealer visiting your house, got Ms. Taylor her door busted in at 1am by police holding guns in their hands. This is a much, much higher danger scenario, with a much higher probability of someone getting injured or shot through miscommunication or misunderstanding. And that’s where the racism lies; the police use high-risk methods against poor and minority people at a higher rate and with less evidence of wrong-doing to justify it.

      • Posted September 24, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Yes,I hear you, and this is possible, but is there EVIDENCE that cops use more violence in drug busts against blacks than against whites if the crimes and situations were comparable. You have made a claim but given no evidence to buttress it. I’ll keep an open mind about this, but we need data.

        • eric
          Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

          I don’t have a lot of statistics for you; what I said above is my opinion. The wikipedia page on no-knock warrants gives some support (“Of those subject to SWAT search warrants, 42% are black and 12% are Hispanic”), but I think at this point what I would say is: we need to look at how they are being used and on whom, to make sure that the decision to issue a no-knock warrant is based on true criminal justice need rather than social status of the suspect. If the suspected crime wouldn’t be enough for the cops to force midnight entry into a judge’s or senator’s house, then it shouldn’t be enough for them to force entry into a poor black EMT’s house. Justice, in that sense, should be blind – but likely is not.

          • Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

            Your data actually give no support to the contention, save that warrants are used on blacks more than their proportion in the general population. You give no data that busts on white dealers are less violent than on black dealers. Yet you cited your opinion as if it were fact.

            • eric
              Posted September 24, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

              Well, that’s where I think the racism lies; in the police choice of whom and for what crimes to use no-knock warrants, SWAT teams and the like. While it may just be my opinion, I think it’s a pretty reasonable opinion to say that if a wealthy or powerful person was in the same position Ms. Taylor was (i.e. a past friend staying at their house being suspected of being a drug dealer), the police would not have gone for the 1am forced entry.

            • Posted September 25, 2020 at 4:37 am | Permalink

              Your data actually give no support to the contention, save that warrants are used on blacks more than their proportion in the general population.

              But that is indicative of racism, isn’t it?

              It doesn’t tell us necessarily that the police are racist, but if too many black people are subject to no knock warrants, either the police are being racist or something racist in society leads to black people being more likely to be involved in the kinds of activities that attract no knock warrants.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      The Fourth Amendment prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures.” Under existing Supreme Court precedent, one of the requirements of “reasonableness” is that the officers executing a search warrant knock and announce there presence, meaning that they knock, announce, and wait a reasonable time for the occupant(s) to answer the door before breaking their way in — unless the judge or magistrate issuing the warrant has found separate probable cause to believe that knocking and announcing would either endanger the safety of the officers executing the warrant or would lead to the destruction of evidence within.

      Under federal practice (which is uniform across the land — I can’t speak specifically to Kentucky state practice) search warrants must be executed during “daytime” hours (meaning between 6 am and 10 pm) “unless the judge for good cause expressly authorizes execution at another time.” See Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(a)(2)(B) and(e)(2)(A)(ii). This rule was adopted precisely because execution of search warrants in the middle of the night is much more dangerous for all concerned — both executing officers and occupants of the premises searched — as this case amply demonstrates.

      According to publicly available information, the probable cause for issuing the warrant in this case seems exceptionally thin. The Fourth Amendment requires that the evidence establishing probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found on the premises be “fresh” — a suspicious package having been seen leaving the premises two months earlier would not alone suffice. It’s also unclear what justification there was for issuing a “no knock” warrant (as is alleged to have been the situation at least originally). And it seems particularly unwise for the warrant in this case to have been executed at one o’clock in the morning.

      • Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        Yes. It seems the murder was really the result of a poorly thought out warrant being issued. Unfortunately, the rioters are not going to be happy with such an explanation.

      • eric
        Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        I agree with your analysis, but this seems to be related to the old ‘indict a ham sandwich’ problem. I.e., whatever the 4th may say or past courts have ruled, in practice either grand juries or judges or both will now approve police requests on the flimsiest of claims. The burden of proof has all but disappeared. On the issue of search and seizure, talking about the state’s desire to act vs. the citizen’s desire not to be acted upon, we have swung very far to the side of the state.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 24, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

          Grand juries are made up of laypeople, who can be expected to follow prosecutors’ recommendations whether to bring and indictment, since they are otherwise ignorant of the law (hence the old saw about grand juries “indicting a ham sandwich”).

          Search warrants are issued by judges and magistrates who, presumably, have a great deal of experience with search-and-seizure law, so should be expected to hold law enforcement to its appropriate Fourth Amendment burdens (especially since SCOTUS has crafted a “good faith” exception to the exclusionary rule for Fourth Amendment violations where law enforcement obtains a valid search warrant).

    • sugould
      Posted September 25, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      “Anyone can yell “police” before battering down your door.” And they can yell it right after, too.

      The other 11 witnesses did not hear anything said, and the 12th one said “yes” only after being questioned by the police for a third time.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 25, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        It is not unheard of for home-invasion robbers to gain entry to a residence under the guise of posing as police.

        There was a ring in south Florida for whom this was the modus operandi, compete with uniforms, badges, firearms, et al. They were known to hit homes of suspected drug dealers, stealing the cash and narcotics on hand, plus taking telephone bills and other records that might lead them to their next targets.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Forget racism, the primary unjustified business of this story is – who allowed such a midnight entry to find drugs. The police are simply nuts doing it this way. It gets people killed and it can get police killed. Is finding drugs so important as to kill innocent people? It is the method, not the results that matters here. As is even the case in the murder of innocent black people that we know about, the police are doing things all wrong and causing these events.

    In the end a woman was killed in her own home, in her bed by the police. How do you justify that?

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Well, I’m not trying to justify it, but it’s not unimaginable that there could be a justifiable firefight between a guy and cops and an innocent woman would be killed as a bystander. That would not be illegal.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 24, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        Yes, all I am saying is, the real problem is what caused these results – the busting in at midnight with guns ready to shoot. That is the cause and the results are predictable.

        • kesheck
          Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

          Randall, I’m with you 100%. Raids like this, it seems to me, are because of the continuing effects of the “war on drugs” the U.S. started decades ago.

          I particularly agree with your view that police methods in the U.S. are “nuts.” Do police in other western democracies use these types methods in cases involving drugs or, as we have seen here, traffic stops? That’s a sincere question; I don’t have the answer. My sense is that they don’t.

          As to proof of racial disparities in use of forcible entry, I did a very quick web search and did find one study that didn’t focus on forcible entry, but use of force in general. The Center for Policing Equity’s study admits that teasing out discrepancies is difficult, but the conclusion states:

          “First, even when controlling for arrest demographics, participating departments revealed racial disparities across multiple levels of force severity. Second, even when controlling for the very rare occurrence of arrest for Part I violent crime within a demographic—an event that previous research suggests is only modestly more likely in and of itself to result in a use of force incident—25%-55% of participating departments still revealed robust racial disparities that disadvantaged Blacks.”

          Here’s the link to that study:

          Click to access CPE_SoJ_Race-Arrests-UoF_2016-07-08-1130.pdf

    • A C Harper
      Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      I make no comment about the actual details of this case.

      But in the USA, with an estimated 120.5 guns for every 100 residents, the Police *might* be concerned that they could be fired on if they gave more notice of their entry.

      Are there any figures to support or undermine any claim that late night ‘raids’ are more or less dangerous?

      • Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        Indeed: Why don’t military forces announce themselves to their opponents? Maybe because they will arm up and ambush them when they enter the space?

        It’s blindingly obvious the there are some criminals that will do their best to kill police officers, when they come to arrest them. And these are exactly the same sorts of people who we do not want on the street.

        Even when the encounter is unplanned on both sides.

        https://www.mcall.com/news/police/mc-nws-route-33-state-police-trooper-shooting-video-released-20180706-story.html

        There are about 160 police officer line-of-duty deaths per year in the USA (the last 20 years).

        • eric
          Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          Indeed: Why don’t military forces announce themselves to their opponents?

          Police aren’t military. They aren’t supposed to act, sound, or think like the military. The military’s job is, frankly, to kill the enemy and destroy their offensive capabilities. The correct tactic for the military when faced with a threat is often to escalate the force they use. The police’s job is to protect and serve the populace – including the suspects of their investigation. The correct tactic for them when faced with a threat is to try and de-escalate it.

          Militarizing the police in terms of their weaponry, outlook, and thinking is part of the problem, IMO, not the solution.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

            You got it right…

          • Patrick
            Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

            Exactly. Well put.

          • Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

            But, the effect is the same. They are trying to arrest people (assuming they have the correct intelligence in the situation) who they know are armed and they can certainly presume are willing to shoot to kill when confronted with arrest.

            Unless you are suggesting police go unarmed against armed criminals, then the analogy is correct.

            And if you are suggesting they go in unarmed, then good luck with your recruiting.

            • eric
              Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

              they can certainly presume are willing to shoot to kill when confronted with arrest.

              Why presume that? So anyone with dope in their house is now presumed to be willing to kill to prevent arrest?

              This is exactly the sort of attitude that needs to change. No, the cops should not presume any such thing about 99% of the citizens they are charged to protect. Not rich white guys in big houses, not poor black women in apartments. Not legal gun owners. Not EMTs with clean records. If they want to presume that about convicted felons on the run or mass murder suspects, fine. But for the rest of us, no, it is exactly the wrong thing to do to assume all suspects are willing to kill to remain unarrested, and go in with guns raised and ready based on that assumptions. That’s what gets innocent people killed.

              And if you are suggesting they go in unarmed, then good luck with your recruiting.

              I’m suggesting that if the police suspect the previous boyfriend of a homeowner might have dealt drugs out of her house two months previously, a single officer knocking on the door during daytime is probably a reasonable risk to the officer to take. There is absolutely nothing about those circumstances that says ‘deadly threat.’ I’m also suggesting that if we took the exact nature of the suspected crime and suspected gun possession, and situated it in a big mansion of a wealthy white lawyer or actor, the “risk to officer” would’ve been assessed quite differently and a polite daytime visit to serve the warrant is exactly what the suspect would’ve gotten.

            • Posted September 25, 2020 at 4:47 am | Permalink

              If they know the suspect is armed and willing to shoot, then there must be an expectation that the situation will escalate into a firefight.

              If they expect a firefight, they should not have executed the warrant in such a way as to endanger innocent bystanders.

              • eric
                Posted September 25, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

                How did they know he was ‘willing to shoot?’ Do we just presume that every legal gun owner is willing to kill policemen who come to search their houses? Or is it because he’s black? Or not rich? I think you and I will agree those last two are terrible, discriminatory reasons for presuming a willingness to shoot. Yet, I suspect they play a part in police determination of who to do midnight raids on and who not to. At the very least, the police probably consider the “is this suspect rich enough to raise a huge stink and get us in PR hot water” factor when deciding how to serve the warrant, and that tilts the playing field even if there’s no over racism going on.

                ISTM the cause of his shooting is very obvious; someone busted in the door to where he was staying at 1am. IOW, self-defense under perceived threat of attack. The presumption that he was willing to shoot policemen to prevent the warrant being served has, as far as I can tell, zero basis.

              • Posted September 25, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

                Yes you are right. They should presume that the suspect is willing to shoot and the possibility of the deaths of innocent bystanders must always be taken into account. This operation should never have been carried out in the way it was.

              • Posted September 25, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

                Not true. The cops thought that this was her old boyfriend who had a history of criminality. I assume the whole point of a no-knock warrant is to catch him unprepared and not ready to shoot but the cops have to be prepared for the suspect to have a gun at the ready.

                As I see it, most of the blame goes to the issuance of the warrant. For one thing, they evidently had no reliable knowledge that the person they sought was inside the apartment. And they knew that the apartment was home to someone who was innocent.

          • Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

            “The correct tactic for [the police] when faced with a threat is to try and de-escalate it.”

            I’s unclear to me that giving the armed suspects time to get their weapons in hand and their act together is likely to do that.

            I’m leaving completely aside issues such as “War on Drugs” which I agree is stupid. I’m with the late William F Buckley (and I’m not with him on much!) and many others that for drugs: Make them legal, tax them, punish bad behavior not possession and use. And I’m not commenting on no-knock warrants either. I don’t know enough about this to make a clear judgement on it. It seems that they may be used too frequently. (But are they never justified? Never is a long time.)

            We live in society with armed, dangerous people among us. Sometimes force is needed.

          • Justin Seabury
            Posted September 24, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

            And therein lies the problem – the WAR on drugs. a WAR where the innocent have to die to protect us from the ENEMY. I am sure all the innocent victims of no knock searches of people accused for selling drugs can sleep comfortably in their graves knowing that other people may have been kept safe…

          • sugould
            Posted September 25, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

            ++

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        I am not hunting for statistics, I’ll let others do that. But common sense tells me that busting into houses at midnight just to attempt to find drugs is stupid. Go in the daytime and knock on the door. You said it yourself, everyone has guns. So busting into houses in the middle of the night is a good way to kill people on both sides. As I side before – the outcome was predictable.

        • Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          +1

        • Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

          Since there are, ballpark, 50,000 no-knock warrants executed per year, I suggest that the result isn’t as predictable as you imply.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

            No knock warrants for what? For drugs. Arrest warrants. Speeding tickets, murder. How many in the middle of the night? The stat by itself is meaningless.

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

              Beat down my door at 12:30 am and you might get shot.

      • eric
        Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        There are lots of news articles. In terms of more detailed analysis, both ACLU and Cato institute have published articles on it. But there’s no comprehensive and neutral source of statistics (assuming for the moment one doesn’t count the ACLU and Cato Institute as neutral).

        In the US there is no official national record kept of police shootings; states and districts may (or may not) keep data on such incidents, but at the federal level, there is no attempt to track or analyze that data.

        From the various articles I read, four points stood out. One: police find drugs between one third and two thirds of the time. Two: they often get the wrong house. A NYPD study in 2003 found that 10% of the time they got the wrong house. Three: this is now the main use of SWAT teams; about 80% of SWAT deployments are for these sorts of drug busts, even though SWAT teams were initially set up to deal with things like hostage crises and active shooters, not drug busts of any sort. Fourth: nobody has good comprehensive nationwide statistics on number of shootings, number of injuries or deaths, etc.

    • Patrick
      Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      There is no justification for these tactics. If the police were interested in solving crimes effectively (leaving aside the insanity of the war on drugs), they could show up at 9:00am, knock politely, wait for someone to answer, and show a warrant.

      Destroying doors with battering rams in the middle of the night when no one is in danger is unjustifiable and shows clearly the dangers of militarizing the police. This is all about the ego of cops cosplaying as soldiers, not about law enforcement or protecting the public.

      • Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        And who is covering the back door, the side doors, the roof, for the guys rushing out with their guns?

        • Justin Seabury
          Posted September 24, 2020 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

          Other cops hoping to shoot a perp…

  5. Marty L.
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Where did you hear they had and then lost their no knock warrant? Did that just come out yesterday, because everything I’ve heard said they had a no knock warrant? Been following this case a while and thought there was no way a murder or manslaughter charge was appropriate and even said the officer who was fired could get a wanton or reckless endangerment charge, but didn’t think the other two officers would get anything.

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      I read it this morning but can’t lay my hands on the piece. Supporting it, though, is that the cops originally had a no knock warrant but wound up, so they say, identifying themselves as police and knocking. They wouldn’t need to do that, or even say it, if they were simply executing the stipulations of the warrant.

    • Marty L.
      Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Never mind. I see it in that one NY Times article, but I haven’t seen that from any other source. Still police allege they knocked and announced. Which can be a quick “Police” being yelled before knocking the door in.

  6. paablo
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I know little about law, yet nobody has explained sufficiently why an officer is charged for endangering the neighbors while none are charged for killing a person. Regardless of the legal justification, it’s a really bad look for the system. Without a sensible explanation, it’s not surprising that some would consider systemic racism as a possibility, whether true or not.

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      It’s because all bets are off when someone fires at cops. Self-defense and all that. Assuming the the cops had no involvement in the decision to serve a no-knock warrant at that address, it is hard to blame them for it. If they didn’t announce themselves, then they are culpable but, unfortunately, no one is going to know whether they did or didn’t.

      My take is that the system killed Breonna Taylor. No-knock warrants shouldn’t be a thing. Residents having guns shouldn’t be a thing. Cops without body cams shouldn’t be a thing.

      Lawyers for Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend were interviewed on CNN last night. They said that they would be able to review the grand jury transcripts but hadn’t yet done so. The key will be finding out what crimes the DA put before the jury.

      • eric
        Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        Assuming the the cops had no involvement in the decision to serve a no-knock warrant at that address, it is hard to blame them for it.

        That’s absurd (IMO). The warrant gives them permission to search the premises without knocking first – it doesn’t require them to go in after midnight, or use a battering ram on the door, or use a SWAT team. These are tactical decisions made by the police force, not the judge. It is absolutely correct to hold the police force accountable for those tactical decisions and their outcomes.

        Now if you’re saying ‘once a shot is fired, you can’t blame the police for shooting back’, I am sympathetic to that. I don’t entirely agree with it (you can always choose not to shoot back. Seek cover, pause to see if additional shots come vs. the person tries to communicate with you, figure out if it was your buddy who might have fired that shot, etc.), but yes, it is certainly somewhat understandable if they do.

        • Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          As you say, the warrant gives them permission to do all those things that you list so it isn’t surprising the police followed through. Sure, the police are responsible for identifying conditions that should prevent them from executing the warrant. For example, if there was a policy of not executing such warrants after midnight, then they are definitely guilty of that. I suspect there was no such policy, but I don’t know it for a fact. What particular tactical decisions are you calling out?

          • eric
            Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

            What particular tactical decisions are you calling out?

            In this case? Pretty much all of them. I see you’ve read Ken Kukek’s comment, as you replied to it. I think his reasoning is sound. The evidence of wrongdoing that they had simply provides no justification for such an aggressive search.

            • Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

              “The evidence of wrongdoing that they had simply provides no justification for such an aggressive search.”

              I totally agree but is that the fault of the cops executing the warrant? I blame the DA’s office that approved the warrant, the police system that sent them there, and the laws that allow them to create such a warrant. Those are not tactical decisions.

              • eric
                Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

                is that the fault of the cops executing the warrant?

                Yes.
                Who decided how long (or short) to wait before breaching? The cops executing the warrant.

                Who decided to use a battering ram? The cops executing the warrant.

                Who decided to fire many many rounds (six from the cop who shot Ms. Taylor, IIRC, possibly more from others) when they heard a shot? The cops executing the warrant.

                And if ‘nay’s post #7 below is correct, who decided not to call 911? The cops executing the warrant. Who decided not to allow an ambulance to come to the scene, and not allow the boyfriend to approach Ms. Taylor to help her? The cops executing the warrant.

              • Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

                I thought you said the warrant gave the cops permission to do those things.

        • boudiccadylis
          Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

          Paul I agree with the “it isn’t the thing” as much as one can. Next thing will be Mr Barr determining what is.

        • darrelle
          Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

          I can’t be sure of course but I think by “the cops” Paul may have been referring only to the cops that actually executed the entry, not the police as an organization.

          I agree with you on nearly all points in your comments above. And well said too.

          I don’t know who among the police authorized and planned this operation or if any of them were among the police that actually made the entry. But to my mind those cops most certainly should be held accountable. Too often in incidents like this the people who were in charge, made the decisions, called the shots, don’t face any consequences.

          This incident illustrates very well just how screwed up law enforcement is in many jurisdictions in the US. The problems will be hard to fix because the causes run deep. The institutional view-point and attitudes of law enforcement organizations are dangerously wrong if the goal is to have a fair and decent society.

  7. nay
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    The news I watched said it was Taylor’s apartment, not Walker’s, and the warrant was to search Taylor’s abode because her former boyfriend, who had moved out months prior, was suspected of dealing drugs from there. Taylor was suspected because she was the girlfriend of a possible dealer. I didn’t hear that Walker was dealing or suspected of such. Also, Walker is a licensed gun owner, only shot once – toward the floor, and was yelling to call 911 because of the home invasion. (I wonder if the neighbor who heard the police identify themselves actually heard Walker yelling “call the police”.) It was also reported that while Taylor lay on the floor bleeding out, but still breathing, Walker asked the police to call an ambulance but they did not and would not let him near her to render aid. That’s what I heard.

    • Adam M.
      Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Well at least part of that seems to be false. Walker fired through the door, hitting one officer in the leg and tearing the femoral artery.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted September 25, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

        A torn Femoral artery should kill you in in 3 minutes.

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I erred, and I’ve corrected it above, as well as adding a few more details. I didn’t give the other stuff in full simply because I didn’t want to tell the entire story. I don’t think Walker shot toward the floor since the report is that he wounded an officer. As the NYT reports:

      Mr. Walker fired his gun once, striking Sergeant Mattingly in a thigh.

  8. Harrison
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    One neighbor said the police announced themselves. Eleven others said they didn’t.

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      11 neighbors, within effective earshot, were awake at 1am?

  9. Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Another victim of the country’s militarized “war on drugs” and cop-show culture.

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      That’s my main lesson from the thing, also. Frankly, if one WERE involved in drugs, and someone burst in your door at 1 am – probably even IF they said they were cops – you’d be inclined to start shooting, because it would more likely be “competitors” or similar. But if there were no war on drugs, many such occasions would disappear.

      • Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Good point, Robert. The system itself is a form of reckless endanderment. Not having followed the case closely, though, it seems hard to blame the individual cops. If they were told to execute a no-knock warrant, well they did not choose the no-knock entry. If they took fire upon entering and then returned fire, well it’s a horrible tragedy (and the system is to blame for creating that situaion, as you say), but what is one to do when taking fire and one of your team is hit? Maybe additional details show additional things, but I am guessing the grand jury viewed the evidence and thought kind of the same thing I’m thinking.

        • Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

          I think you’re right, and I sympathize with both the cops and with the man who fired on them, in a horribly, seemingly contradictory way.

          • Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

            Me too. Then individuals in the case all deserve sympathy. The solution is not to go after these individual cops more vehemently, which I think misplaces the blame, destroys individual cops who probably don’t deserve it, and generally steers the whole BLM movement toward easy revenge rather than fixing the real problem — the “war on drugs” protocols of which you speak and of which cops and suspects are both victims.

            • Michael Waterhouse
              Posted September 25, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

              If you take on a job knowing full well you may have to kill people, burst into people homes guns drawn, arrest and jail people and destroy lives for, AH!! drugs, why would anyone have sympathy for them when they carry out the job they signed on for?
              I don’t. Not one bit. They are moral criminals.

    • Nicholas K.
      Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Talk about cop-show culture. “Chicago P.D.” is a well-liked show (often films in my neighborhood). I watched a few episodes and could only think “The cops, they’re all going to be arrested at the end of the show, right?”

      Wrong! The cops are portrayed as the good guys. Even when they commit muder. Because the “bad guy always deserves it.” Weekly violations of rights and ethics. I wonder how it affects how people view of police in the community.

      https://www.cinemablend.com/television/2490322/study-calls-out-chicago-pd-for-treating-unethical-police-officers-as-heroes

  10. Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    But one of the cop was wearing a body cam, he is still wearing it in his mugshot

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      I can imagine that they have a rule where they don’t use the body cam when entering a residence in order to protect privacy. Just a guess.

  11. Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I also don’t know a lot about the details, but the point of dispute would seem to be the grand jury system. If the cops behavior was questionable, you call a grand jury to determine charges. It seems this appropriate step was taken. The grand jury weighed evidence and decided. The protestors’ gripe is with the grand jury system. Have they offered a reasonable replacement? If the replacement idea is to forego the process of presenting evidence to a grand jury and bring charges based on public sentiment, that seems quite risky in the long run. Has an alternative procedure been suggeted?

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      I think the protestors’ gripe should be with the DA as it depends greatly on what was presented to the grand jury. It is well known that DAs can usually get grand juries to support the charges they present. As the saying goes, they can get them to indict a ham sandwich.

      That said, it is hard to see what additional crimes the DA could have come up with given the circumstances. It’s the entire system that needs indicting. So the protests will continue.

      • Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        The protestors don’t give a sh!t about the evidence or the ability to convince a jury or what the law says.

  12. Eric Shumard
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    The decision on indictments of the officers involved was performed by a grand jury which is a deeply problematic system. The grand jury proceeding occurred in secret with evidence and witnesses supplied exclusively by the DA/prosecutor with no advocate opposing the views of the DA. Participants in a grand jury are typically forbidden to discuss the proceedings even after they are complete. The grand jury members are chosen from a pool but the DA can strike prospective jurors. In Kentucky a grand jury consists of 12 members with a requirement that 9 or more jurors must vote affirmatively for indictment. This means the DA needs to convince 4 or more out of 12 jurors to prevent an indictment. There are only 2 countries that use a grand jury system: the United States and Liberia. The grand jury system is basically legal cover employed by the DA to get whatever result they want.

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      If charging decisions are not secret, then the person being investigated is punished prior even to trial: By being smeared in public with an investigation that may not prove anything against them.

      There may be issues with the grand jury system.

      Most County Attorneys are now deciding these sorts of charging decisions on their own. and is that better? A single person deciding in a politically charged situation? It may feed the political beast; but is it truly more just or more accurate?

      Charging decisions should be based on the evidence and the likelihood of obtaining a conviction in a jury trial. That’s the intent of the grand jury system.

      Is it always executed correctly? Of course not, monkeys being what they are.

      • Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        html fail, Only should was intended to be bolded.

      • Eric Shumard
        Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        A public pretrial hearing with advocates from all relevant parties is the alternative to grand juries that is used in most of the democratic world. With the grand jury system a single person (the DA/prosecutor) effectively decides whether to bring charges because they control the uncontested information presented to the grand jurors.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted September 25, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

        Why not just have the trial.

        Grand Juries seem to allow for any number of manipulations.

  13. Curtis
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Whenever a midnight raid is made, it puts the police and homeowners at risk. They are stupid and dangerous. The people who ordered the raid are the ones at fault. The people who allow this type of raid are at fault.

    The police who performed the raid probably acted appropriately. Walker probably acted appropriately. But Taylor is dead because the system promotes this type of dangerous action.

    • Pawel
      Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Yes. Ordering such a raid seems (to me) like ordering the Marines to “take that hill”. Maybe you get lucky and nobody dies today, but on average, such an order costs the lives of N of your men, and M civilians.

      Some hills are worth it. It’s not crazy that the Marines spend all day practicing for this. It’s not crazy that we shield them from prosecution for some deadly mistakes, in their professional duty, which would otherwise be crimes. But it is crazy that we order such things in the hope of catching some low-level drug-dealer before he can flush his 100g down the toilet. That’s not worth N+M lives.

      (I don’t know what these numbers are for no-knock raids, or nearly-no-knock raids, on probably-armed guys who are asleep. Less than one life on average, for sure. But still a weighty decision.)

  14. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Consider this Houston case: https://abcnews.go.com/US/houston-cop-charged-murder-botched-drug-raid-suspected/story?id=69255130

    Without talking about racism, we can agree the police system must be reformed. We need more police with better training, and for god’s sake, some way to help families deal with their mentally deranged relatives. Our attention spans are so short — just a few years ago we were talking about Radley Balko’s book about the militarization of the police, and then we just forgot, and did nothing.

  15. Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    “ when the police entered the apartment, the boyfriend fired on the police (he did not know they were police), wounding one officer; the police returned fire, resulting in Ms. Taylor’s death.“

    If the police had shot the boyfriend, the shooter, the justification argument might hold water. But why was Ms. Taylor shot? Six times no less. Did the police officer fire his weapon not even knowing who he was shooting at? Sounds negligent to me.

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      This is a key question: Is it incompetence or malice (culpable)? Can one convince a jury of culpable conduct?

      What can you convict someone of if they f*ck up?

      If you run someone over in your car and kill them, you’re not drunk, they weren’t in a cross walk, you don’t run, and you cooperate with the police (are truthful), what are you culpable for?

      I have very nearly run over someone (all 4 wheels locked up, skidding) when they darted from between stopped cars in the middle of a freeway overpass (nowhere near an intersection or a sidewalk). If I had been a split second slower on the brakes, what would I have been culpable for? (I, essentially, never take my eyes off the road in front of me and do not use a phone while driving.)

      • Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think wanton endangerment requires showing malice. But I will leave it for someone better versed in the law than I (calling Ken Kukec) to pronounce.

      • eric
        Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        What can you convict someone of if they f*ck up?

        Murder in the 3rd degree.

        Isn’t that pretty much the definition of it? Sure, lots of formal language, but ultimately, it’s causing someone’s death through your own reckless f*ck up.

  16. Roo
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I think the problem we are facing at the moment is that there is not a category that adequately covers fatal errors of judgement in the line of duty when it comes to the police (Whether or not these officers did in fact make such an error, I don’t know, because the details are hazy and conflict depending on the source. But in general.)

    For example, I feel confident in saying that exponentially more people are killed by medical errors and / or bad medical judgement calls each year than the police. This is terrible and results in loss of life and is heartbreaking for families, but people – rightfully so – don’t try to charge doctors, nurses and EMTs with homicides for making bad calls.

    Of course there are differences in law enforcement, in that there can be a zero sum conflict between the safety of the police and the safety of the people they are arresting (a “Do I shoot or risk being shot? Or risk someone else being shot”) dynamic. That is not so in medicine. Even so, I think reflecting on the example of medical errors is helpful in understanding why many people (self included) don’t think it’s right to label an error of judgement as murder. The intentions of someone who murders someone either in cold blood or in anger just seem like a morally distinct situation from the intentions of police officers who are trying to do their job, but in some cases doing it badly (in other cases, I would argue, they actually aren’t, and the media pushes incredibly biased narratives to promote this ‘Killer Cops!’ theme they seem so invested in. Apologies, I know I probably sound kinda angry on that point, but I do think it’s unfair that working class officers are used as pawns in the “We Hate Trump” war after Russiagate, Kavanaugh, border detentions, and various other issues didn’t work out on that front.)

    What the right moral framing for this is, I don’t know. I can’t point to a good example in medicine, because I don’t think there is one – the primary punishment in those cases seems to be litigation and maybe the loss of one’s medical license, but I don’t think that is a particularly good system, as litigation can also become excessive and then is a part of why health care costs are outrageous for everyone. If I were to propose a solution, it would probably be along the lines of restorative vs. retributive justice – time spent in community service projects, for example. (And I apply that thinking to anyone who kills another person primarily in error and not out of malice, not just the police. If it was a teenager who was stupidly showing of his dad’s gun to friends and shot someone, for example, I don’t see what purpose it serves to send that teen to jail.)

    • sugould
      Posted September 25, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      “…more people are killed by medical errors and / or bad medical judgement calls each year than the police…but people – rightfully so – don’t try to charge doctors, nurses and EMTs with homicides for making bad calls.”

      Medical staff try to save lives. Police shootings are trying to stop/end lives. As happens when you fire enough bullets into them.

      • Roo
        Posted September 25, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        In the context of trying to protect the population from crime, and in at least perceived self defense though. Like I said, there are certainly some differences in that analogy, but I think morally, this is just very different from homicide as the term is generally understood, and we need a different legal category for it.

  17. Posted September 24, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    IMHO, it all centers on the warrant. Even if the police thought that a criminal they wanted to arrest is at the address, they shouldn’t get a warrant unless they can show that a crime is going to be committed if they don’t break in that door and that they can be sure there are no innocent parties on the premises. In this case, they could presumably have apprehended the guy they were looking for when he left the house in the morning. They also knew that it was a house inhabited by an innocent. The warrant should never have been issued.

    • max blancke
      Posted September 25, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Further reading on the subject yields the information that they were not looking for Jamarcus Glover at her apartment. They were executing the search warrant on her apartment to search for evidence of Mr. Glover’s drug sales.
      She was suspected of involvement because her complicated history with Mr. Glover included her renting a car for him, which ended in a person being murdered in the car, as well as her being photographed outside of at least one of the abandoned houses that Mr. Glover used for drug sales, as well as Mr. Glover continuing to use her address for for mail. That does not mean that the cops had any reason to suspect that she was knowingly assisting him in criminal activity.

      It seems like they expected her to be alone and compliant, which is why, although the warrants for the several locations to be raided simultaneously were assigned to be no knock warrants executed by swat teams, the raid at her apartment was conducted under relaxed rules, and apparently so was the surveillance. She had a tracker on her car, and detectives observing her apartment, but they failed to notice the presence of the boyfriend.

      The reason Mr. Walker is not being prosecuted is because it appears that he shot at what he legitimately believed to be home invaders. The cops are not being prosecuted because they returned fire at a person who had just shot at them and hit one cop.
      I see the main problem being the flawed system that put the residents and officers in that situation at that time, and probably some people higher up in the chain of command who failed to decide that her apartment could be safely searched when vacant or during normal hours.

      • Posted September 26, 2020 at 1:43 am | Permalink

        Interesting, though “suspect is expected to be alone and compliant” doesn’t seem to jive with “no-knock warrant”. Perhaps the idea is that the cops enter before she flushes the evidence down the toilet.

  18. Shaun
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    According to https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/23/us/breonna-taylor-case-people/index.html, the officers had a no-knock warrant but were advised to knock and announce themselves. I SPECULATE that the no-knock “option” may have been included to cover two contingencies. One: Taylor’s ex happens to be at her apartment when the warrant is executed. (See below.) Two: no one is home.

    But why execute it at 12:30am? I SPECULATE that it may have been because five raids were conducted near-simultaneously. If police didn’t gain entry to Taylor’s apartment at 12:30am, they would have had to sit on it to prevent potential removal/destruction of evidence by abettors of Taylor’s ex. Also, part of the justification for the warrant was that Taylor’s apartment was listed “in an online database” as Taylor’s ex’s current home address three weeks before the raid. Might the raids thus have been conducted assuming the risk that he could be at any of the five locations?

    Walker himself testified that the police banged on the door. I SPECULATE that police don’t bang on doors at 12:30am without also identifying themselves. High risk of getting shot as suspected intruders, right? Walker also testified that he and Taylor shouted, “Who is it?” multiple times and that they suspected it was Taylor’s ex at the door. He also said that they dressed, that he grabbed his gun, and that they made their way toward the door. I find Walker’s testimony extremely credible. He was guilty of nothing and has no reason not to tell the truth.

    Consider the possibility that the police did identify themselves but Taylor and Walker, half asleep, heard only muffled shouting—and that the police heard only muffled shouting in return. If that happened, and if the police believed that they had effectively identified themselves, might they have interpreted as resistance the shouting and the failure to open the door? And might they regard that as justification for resorting to the battering ram, especially if they Taylor’s ex might be inside?

  19. Posted September 24, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    In all of this brouhaha about “police brutality,” I perceive a missing element: the police are by definition professionally confronted on a frequent basis with the very worst and most dangerous of human behaviors. Consequently, they are well-armed and are easily identifiable as such by their appearance and manner, rather in the manner of hornets. Nonetheless, too often in these tales of woe, the fact that the soon-to-be victim has first displayed aggressive behavior toward the police is very often ignored.
    When the police seek to interact with one, it is wise to speak kindly to them and to sort the matter out later. This mollifies the nervous constables and permits them time to listen and assess the matter at hand.
    Physically threatening and/or attacking the police, on the other hand, can by the nature of their work be fatal to the attacker and to anyone around him/her.
    Don’t be shooting at the police, or pulling knives on them. Don’t steal their Tasers. It’s stupid.

    • Posted September 24, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Sure, tell that Breonna Taylor’s family. They’ll go “WTF!”

      The problem is that the rules by which cops engage with supposed criminals causes many deaths. Midnight no-knock warrants being a prime example. Many cops feel the need to force every confrontation to happen and resolve in their favor as quickly as possible. They almost seem to relish the justified use of power and the rules of engagement are designed to satisfy their blood lust. Why do the police seem to constantly let their taser or gun get within reach of the perpetrator? Why do they engage in wrestling matches when they often outnumber the perpetrator when they know they’re also partially incapacitated by drugs and/or alcohol? So many cops are either stupid or want it to happen. Sure, but most of them are nice people. 😉

      • Roo
        Posted September 24, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Not trying to be confrontational, but just curious about where you’re coming from here – do you know any police officers? Saying they secretly enjoy these encounters because of ‘blood lust’ strikes me as a fear that has arisen from ‘Otherization’ – but then it is also possible that you have law enforcement in your life and they’ve been particularly horrible to you in your personal relationship with them, thus leading to this conclusion – so again, just wondering.

        Fwiw, my impression is that jobs such as law enforcement can lead to a siege mentality pretty quickly, for multiple reasons. And that can certainly lead to an attitude that they always have to feel ‘in control’ of every situation, but I certainly wouldn’t call that blood lust (this is also common in abuse victims – it’s a natural response to repeated exposure to awful things.)

        • Posted September 24, 2020 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

          I just think that police in many other countries define the job differently than US police and fewer innocent people die as a result. It’s all about attitude.

          • Roo
            Posted September 24, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

            I think before making that conclusion one would have to control for crime rates though. A cop working in a big US city vs. a cop working in the Dutch countryside are going to have vastly different experiences.

            If there are police working in areas that are comparable to high crime US cities who have found a more effective way to police, then I am 1000% for studying those methods. (And even if those police don’t exist, I think we have to figure out those methods ourselves. The whole “I don’t know what it is, but there has to be a better way” school of thought that hopefully drives progress.) I just don’t know that there are many places that are similar to the US though, in that we are so highly industrialized and yet have such a (relatively) high crime rate. This country is an odd duck in a lot of ways.

            • Posted September 24, 2020 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

              The high crime rate is often used as an excuse. I believe that the high crime rate, although partly based on the ubiquity of guns, is also due to the bad relationship between the public and the police which follows directly from their murderous rules of engagement. Often people in cities with the highest crime rates don’t want to help the police as they are insulting and trigger-happy. The number one rule of policing should be to protect life — all life, not just cops lives. If the decision is between a quick arrest of a supposed criminal and risking lives, the latter should take priority.

              • Roo
                Posted September 24, 2020 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

                Well, if you think the police are driving the high crime rate, that’s an easy enough one to test – decrease police presence and see what unfolds. We seem to be wading into that experiment at the moment. I have a horrible feeling about it, but I’m open to being proven wrong.

              • Posted September 24, 2020 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

                I didn’t say anything about eliminating the police, just changing their behavior and their rules of engagement.

              • savage
                Posted September 25, 2020 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

                The high crime rate does have something to do with the no-snitch-code prevalent in black ghettos. This is the main reason most murders there go unsolved.

                But even in the UK where the police is extraordinarily nice “snitches get stitches” is not unheard of, e.g. in parts of London. Criminals will never like the police. I suspect the US just has some large areas in which the number of felonious individuals has reached a critical mass.

              • Posted September 26, 2020 at 1:45 am | Permalink

                The no-snitch rule also comes from a lack of trust in the cops which comes from them killing innocents and generally showing little respect for regular folk.

            • GBJames
              Posted September 25, 2020 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

              “ no-snitch-code”

              You mean the blue wall of science?

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted September 25, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

          No matter what you might say in the positive about police they do sign on to a job knowing that they might have to kill people.
          Knowing that they will have such power is attractive to some types.

          It is a job where you have to be able to consciously and deliberately blow someone’s brains out, if the situation warrants it.

          And, before the Supreme Court decided otherwise, running away from police was sufficient reason.

          It is a special type of person that will splatter someone’s brains out, deliberately, as they run away, presenting no threat to anyone anyware.

          Oh yeah, it’s just a few bad apples.
          Hmm.
          Paid killers.

          • Roo
            Posted September 25, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

            Michael, not 100% sure if this was a response to me (the spacing on the threads gets harder to parse as they get longer,) but I think it was, so responding.

            This is just my take, fwiw. And I hope this isn’t too inflammatory, as I’m not trying to get into an argument or violate the Roolz here. But again, my take as a centrist who has known at least a handful of police officers well enough to spend time in their houses and such, and has a few in my extended extended family (family of an in-law).

            These stereotypes around the police strike me as ridiculous. This is just classic “I don’t want to empathize with this person at all, so I will conveniently decide they are motivated by some sort of innate sociopathy” dehumanization of a perceived enemy. I do think police culture can become problematic, as can things like army culture (just look at Fort Hood, for example.) But to effectively address those things, one should have a realistic framework about why those dynamics arise. Those tasked with protecting others in those types of jobs face a fairly unique set of circumstances and experiences.

            While I find the current “Well the police are just sociopaths!” style of thinking frustrating, however, what worries me more is actually the backlash to this that I feel is inevitable. I think a reality check on this topic in inevitable. People will eventually bump up against the fact that criminals, surprisingly, are not actually nice people (sorry for the snark.) And I think the farther you pull the pendulum in one direction, the harder and faster it will swing back. So I wish we could have a more reasoned debate on this topic all around – but I don’t see it happening. At this point I think it will be a pull-back of police, a big spike in crime, and a reactionary backlash to that dynamic. It reminds me a bit of the Left harassing soldiers during Vietnam. Our military did not end up decreasing as a result. Quite the opposite.

      • sugould
        Posted September 25, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        +1

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted September 25, 2020 at 5:45 am | Permalink

      Really? That may apply in normal encounters but for unidentified persons banging on your and then smashing their way into your house, ready how do you expect people to comply with your standard?
      I think, in this situation, and many others where no knock raids have gone wrong it is ridiculous to assert that people ‘should’ behave that way, or die. And not just those directly involved either.

      And, I can’t be bothered listing any number of cases of police blazing away no or minimal warning or no or minimal justification.

      You are correct in essence though, and not because of the type of people who the police deal with but because of the type of people police are.
      Hired killers. People who have to be and are prepared to kill people. Who sometimes want to kill people.
      And, they and the powers that be want people to know it. Comply or die.

      And they are not really always ‘easily identifiable as such’ either, are they?

      In the end, the point is as as you describe, they are killers who will kill you.

      Unlike the vast majority of normal people.

  20. Max Blancke
    Posted September 24, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    This shooting is a good case for reforming the search warrant process, at a minimum.

    People who do home invasions have watched “Cops” just like the rest of us, and sometimes shout “police! search warrant!” when forcibly entering a home. If someone breaks through my front door right now, they are going to be facing armed occupants, no matter what they shout.

    Here is the warrant- https://reason.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Breonna-Taylor-search-warrants.pdf

  21. Posted September 25, 2020 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    This, and so many other generators of injustice, misery and disaster can be traced more to the folly of the (incredibly *racist* and morally wrong) War on Drugs than anything.

    Prohibiting ALL the drugs we do makes no medical sense but after 100+ years listening to how “evil” these substances are we’ve lost our critical skills and don’t know the facts about the chemicals themselves, let alone how to administer problems attendant to them.

    Add in the gun culture and a (religiously inspired I believe) particularly American desire to imprison and “cleanse” and you have our country’s biggest disaster of the last century.
    I research illegal drugs, write articles about them and used to defend people in NYC courts caught with them.

    D.A., J.D., NYC
    https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2020/06/10/photos-of-readers-93/

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted September 25, 2020 at 5:57 am | Permalink

      I was commenting myself recently about the possible religious basis for Americas seemingly harsh draconian legal system.
      I put it down the the Pilgrim type religious extremist foundations of the country.
      Maybe.
      But whatever the war on drugs is travesty and should go down as a crime against humanity when viewed objectively.

      How such do think vested commercial interests play a part in the continuing criminalization of, drugs?

      I hav also heard that some police organizations actively advocate for continuing the criminality and resist legalizing even marijuana.
      I don’t know the extent of it but it bugs me when I hear cops say “we only enforce the laws, not make them, don’t blame us”.
      I do blame them.

      • phoffman56
        Posted September 25, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

        Religion yes to an extent, but surely being a former slave state, and in parts never reconciling with that gross evil is a bigger historical reason IMO.

  22. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted September 25, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Christopher Hitchens said not to forget what the Christian churches did when they could get away with it, as they would be doing it still if they could get away with it.

    Police?

    It is extremely easy to find countless examples of police behaving badly.
    How about going back to before and during the civil rights era. Any pictures of cops setting dogs on people? Any pictures of cops bashing unarmed people with clubs?
    In reality, it is extremely easy to see the true colors of the police.
    It is also easy to see countless example of police doing good and heroic things.
    But, so what? That’s the job. Lot’s of people do good and heroic things but don’t also then club women journalist in the head or knock unarmed old geezers over or, as I said, the countless other examples.

    The cops that killed Ms. Taylor chose a job where they would get to kill people, I don’t get all the excuse making.

  23. David Tinkler
    Posted September 26, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    The assessment by your colleague Brian Letter is correct — given the facts and the law, it is not surprising that no police officer was charged in the tragic death of Ms. Taylor. Unfortunately, the BLM movement has persuaded many Americans that any death of a Black person in a police interaction is the result of intentionally racist activity, despite compelling evidence (documented by Coleman Hughes, John McWhorter and others) that such is not the case.

  24. Posted September 26, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Read an interesting WaPo article dealing with a list of misconceptions about the case. I think it’s a great example detailing the problem with many US police departments.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/24/correcting-misinformation-about-breonna-taylor/


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