September was full of so many emotions and heartbreak over the officers not being charged for Breonna Taylor’s death. I had some intense discussions with people in response to one of my posts. I appreciated the people that took the time to read them and tell me that they helped clarify some aspects of the case for them. In case any one else finds them helpful I will also include them here. They are actually quite lengthy, but I think they are important, so I have created a whole new page to break them down. If you have questions about why the officers should or shouldn't be charged, I hope that this helps explains the rules of law that are involved in the case.
This is what my original post said:
"Breonna Taylor should be here. She should be able to protest, to march in the streets, to hold a Black Lives Matter sign. But she is not able to do those things. Because she is not here. Because she was murdered. for no reason. in her home. by the police. whose job it was to protect her."
A follower, let's call him Andy, responded to my post saying,
"Are you kidding me? She was served a warrant by law enforcement and not no knock and enter, they knocked and identified themselves, her boyfriend open fired on law enforcement and they returned fire. Thats what you call a justifiable homicide. Law enforcement officers have the right to defend themselves and to go home at night. If a grand jury can't come up with charges that shows how justified they were and how skewed they where and how skewed the midis made this."
This was my response:
"Andy" thank you for sharing your opinion. Yes, the police had a warrant but for the reasons listed below it was not a legal warrant. Here is an example of just one of the issues that the Breonna Taylor case brings into question and a few of the reasons that Breonna’s murder is not legally justifiable by the police.
Issue: Was this a legal search and seizure under the 4th amendment? (Ie was the warrant valid?)
Rule: The 4th Amendment of the US Constitution restricts the government from authorizing unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court has held that searches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval are prohibited under the Fourth Amendment (with a few detailed exceptions). To get a warrant to do a search the police must show probable cause that a search is justified.
Analysis: Here, to get a warrant and show probable cause, the police say that they verified with the postal inspectors that Glover (Taylor’s ex) was receiving packages at Taylor’s address. The Louisville postal inspector, Tony Gooden, however says that his office was not a part of an inspection of drug trafficking activity in relation to packages delivered to Breonna’s address.
If the basis for the warrant was not valid (ie because they did not in fact have reason to believe that Glover was receiving packages at her house because there was not an ongoing inspection with the postal inspector as they stated in the warrant) then the police did not have the necessary approval to search Breonna’s home (or to break into Breonna’s home in the middle of the night). Therefore, the police violated Breonna’s right against unreasonable searches and seizures and their entry into her home was not legal. Since it was not legal for the plainclothes officers to knock down her door in the middle of the night and her boyfriend, a legal gun owner, was justified in standing his ground and firing at an intruder to their home.
Some other issues that I’d be happy to discuss with you are whether was a permissible no knock situation (or exception to the knock and announce rule) which it does not appear to be, and if we decide it was an exception, did the police execute it legally. And the police department themselves answers that when they said in their June 23rd letter to Detective Hankison regarding public integrity case #20-019, that he violated procedure when he fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment while executing the warrant. Specifically noting that he violated the standard operating procedure 5.1.2 obedience to rules and regulation when he displace an extreme indifference to the value of human life, creating a substantial danger of death and serious injury to Taylor and the occupants in the apartment next to hers, as well as violating standing operating procedure 9.1.12 Use of Deadly Force, say that when he blindly fired 10 rounds into her apartment “without supporting facts that your deadly force was directed at a person against whom posed an immediate threat of danger or serious injury” to himself or others.
“Andy” responded, “facts are the douche bag shot at the cops first and the cops returned fire. If anything her boyfriend should be brought up on charged before any of the cops. @ladiekatieart are emotional talking points based off of opinion not facts of the case. All ‘social’ issues are opinions based off of emotions.”
I responded again, below.
I don’t know Mr. Walker personally so I can’t comment re his personality or whether he’s a douche bag. What I do know is that reason the police gave for searching her home was that they believed that her ex, and the main suspect, Jamarcus Glover, was using her apartment to receive packages with drugs, even though Breonna had severed ties with him. Additionally, at the time that the police raided her home they actually already had Glover and his accomplices
in custody. This is important because if he was the reason for the search and they already had him in custody the search was completely unnecessary. Furthermore, no drugs were found in the apartment.
One of the reasons we want the police to announce themselves is to alert the occupants that it is the police entering so that the occupants do not shoot. Originally, it appears the police got approval for a no knock entry but the orders were changed before the raid to knock and announce. One reason for this change was that Breonna was considered a soft target ie a person, thing or location that is easily accessible and relatively unprotected. There was no reason for a no knock warrant because Breonna wasn’t seen as a being a threat to dispose of evidence, flee or attack the police. If she wasn’t a threat & there was no threat of evidence being destroyed, there was no need to do a raid like this in the middle of the night putting both the officers and the targets at risk.
Because the police weren’t wearing cameras it has been disputed as to whether the police actually did announce themselves. As I am not involved in the case, I am not privy to all of the facts of the case, but based on my understanding of the information as it has been released so far, the evidence does not seem to weigh in favor of showing that the police properly announced themselves.
Some evidence that we have is the phone call of mr. walker to 911. “I don’t know what’s happening,” Mr. Walker said on a recorded call to 911. “Someone kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.” When someone makes a statement relating to a startling event or condition, made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement that it caused, we find these statements to be reliable forms of evidence as the excitement may temporarily still the capacity of reflection and produces utterances free of conscious fabrication. They are called excited utterances and are allowed as an exception to the hearsay rule. Here, Mr. Walker calls 911 while police raid the home. He doesn’t say the police came in and shot my girlfriend. He says “someone” came in and shot my girlfriend which goes to show that he still did not know it was the police that came in and shot at them.
A present sense impression is a statement describing or explaining an event or condition, made while or immediately after the declarant perceived it. We allow them into evidence as reliable exceptions to the general hearsay rules because, due to the contemporaneity of the event and the statement it is unlikely that there be deliberate conscious misrepresentation.
So, Mr. Walker’s call could also be allowed in under this exception as he explains the event that someone has broken into their home and shot his girlfriend. However it is admitted, the 911 call goes to show that Mr. Walker did not know that it was the police that were entering.
Additionally, the apartment building was densely populated and 16 people in the neighborhood said that they heard the gunshots but did not hear the police announce themselves. It is my understanding the police have 1 witness that says that the police announced themselves but that he has flip flopped his account of what happened, at first saying that they did not in fact announce themselves.
So, no, I do not agree that Mr. Walker should be charged. The evidence leans in Mr. Walklers favor that he did not know that these were police entering in the middle of the night. He had a right to defend himself and his girlfriend in their home, fearing for their lives. So yes, Mr. Walker fired a warning shot, which he had a right to do. The police lied about the reasons for getting the warrant (they did not have an investigation with the postal inspector) so it was an illegal search and seizure. Furthermore, even if we ignore the fact that the warrant was not valid, the manner in which they approached the raid was unnecessarily reckless and Breonna’s death in this manner was entirely preventable. Breonna was not a suspect and was not seen as being a risk in terms of fleeing or destroying any evidence so there was no need to blast down her door at 1 am. Additionally, the police had the actual suspect in custody so the raid itself was unnecessary. Whether the police officers performing the raid were made aware of this information, I do not know. What I do know is that they certainly should have been made aware of this information and there was widespread failure on many levels, all of which need to be investigated and addressed so that there are not more completely preventable and unnecessary deaths like Breonna Taylor’s.