On September 23, 2020, the Jefferson County Grand Jury decided that officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove would not face criminal charges for the death of Breonna Taylor.1 Shortly after, rioters and looters took to the streets to express their rage by smashing windows, burning buildings, and shooting two police officers.2

The rioters were self-righteously indignant, claiming an injustice had occurred. Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, said, “The police and law were not made to protect us Black and brown women.”3 As a result of the grand jury’s decision, Palmer has “no faith in the legal system.”4 Benjamin Crump, Palmer’s lawyer, shares this perspective. Crump said that the grand jury’s decision is an example of systemic racism that persists in America.5 . . .


1. “Kentucky Attorney General Announces Grand Jury’s Charges in Breonna Taylor Case,” YouTube, September 23, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo5EUG7P2bw. Officer Brett Hankison, however, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment.

2. Bill Hutchinson, “28 Arrests Made during Breonna Taylor Protests in Louisville; Windows Smashed, Vehicle Set Ablaze,” ABC News, September 27, 2020, https://abcnews.go.com/US/28-arrests-made-breonna-taylor-protests-louisville-windows/story?id=73273804.

3. VOA News, “Breonna Taylor’s Attorney: Grand Jury Decision Is Example of Systemic Racism,” VOA News, September 26, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/usa/race-america/breonna-taylors-attorney-grand-jury-decision-example-systemic-racism.

4. VOA News, “Breonna Taylor’s Attorney: Grand Jury Decision Is Example of Systemic Racism.”

5. VOA News, “Breonna Taylor’s Attorney: Grand Jury Decision Is Example of Systemic Racism.”

6. Zack Budryk, “Governor Reacts to Breonna Taylor Grand Jury: ‘Systemic Racism Exists’ in US, Kentucky,” The Hill, September 23, 2020, https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/517888-kentucky-governor-reacts-to-breonna-taylor-grand-jury-systematic-racism.

7. Edward Lempinen, Anne Brice, Berkeley News, and Ivan Natividad, “In Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Decision, Berkeley Scholars See Grave Racial Injustice,” Berkeley News, September 23, 2020, https://news.berkeley.edu/2020/09/23/in-breonna-taylor-grand-jury-decision-berkeley-scholars-see-grave-racial-injustice/.

8. Henry Louis Taylor Jr., “Breonna Taylor’s Death and Racist Police Violence Highlight Danger of Gentrification,” NBC News, July 22, 2020, “https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/breonna-taylor-s-death-racist-police-violence-highlight-danger-gentrification-ncna1234472.

9. “AG Daniel Cameron Press Conference Transcript September 23: Breonna Taylor Decision,” Rev Blog, September 23, 2020, https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/ag-daniel-cameron-press-conference-transcript-september-23-breonna-taylor-decision.

10. Copy of search warrant from Louisville Metro Police Department, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6890116-Louisville-Metro-Police-Department-Search-Warrant.html.

11. Leaked documents, TatumReport.com, https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/63943132/breonna-taylor-summary-redacted1 (accessed October 21, 2020).

12. Leaked documents, TatumReport.com.

13. Rukmini Callimachi, “Breonna Taylor’s Life Was Changing. Then the Police Came to Her Door,” New York Times, August 30, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/30/us/breonna-taylor-police-killing.html.

14. Jillianne Moncrief, “Autopsy Reveals More about Breonna Taylor’s Death,” WPSD Local 6, Septermber 28, 2020, https://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/autopsy-reveals-more-about-breonna-taylors-death/article_a194fb2c-01b3-11eb-8688-835960ebc6fb.html.

15. Interview with Kenneth Walker by Sgt. Amanda Seelye, Reason, https://reason.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/479106187-PIU-20-019-Transcripts.pdf (accessed December 10, 2020).

16. Lempinen, Brice, Berkeley News, and Natividad, “In Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Decision, Berkeley Scholars See Grave Racial Injustice.”

17. “Breonna Taylor: What Happened on the Night of Her Death?” BBC News, October 8, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54210448.

18. Police are trained to “terminate the threat” according to a law professor and former police officer, Seth Stoughton, who studies policing. Scottie Andrew, “Why Police Shoot So Many Times to Bring Down a Suspect,” CNN, August 26, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/26/us/why-police-shoot-so-many-rounds-trnd/index.html.

19. Andrew C. McCarthy, “A Just Decision Not to File Homicide Charges in the Tragic Breonna Taylor Case,” National Review, September 24, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/09/breonna-taylor-case-just-decision-not-to-file-homicide-charges/.

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