Black Americans are well acquainted with misery and joy, and last week sent another example. On Monday, the Senate joined the House in passage of the Emmett Till Bill, making lynching a federal crime.
But a jury in Louisville, Kentucky found ex-police officer Brett Hankison not guilty on all three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree. The shooting incident that left 26-year-old Breonna Taylor dead occurred on March 13, 2020, when three plainclothes officers—Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove and Hankison—arrived at Taylor’s apartment under the pretext of investigating drug dealing operations.
Taylor was in bed with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker who was alarmed by the forced entry, and thinking an intrusion was in progress fired a warning at Mattingly in the leg. Subsequently, the officers unleashed a barrage of 32 shots. Taylor, in the back of Walker, was hit by six bullets.
Later, Walker was charged with assault and attempted murder but the charges were dismissed. Meanwhile, in the summer of 2020 Hankison was fired for recklessly shooting through the window and door of Taylor’s apartment.
On Sept. 15, the city of Louisville agreed to pay Taylor’s family $12 million and to reform police practices. There was a general feeling in the community that Hankison wouldn’t be convicted, and to date none of the officers have been charged in Taylor’s death. It was determined that Cosgrove fired the shots that killed Taylor.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the Taylor family, said the acquittal was “further evidence of lack of police accountability. The fact that Brett Hankison was not even charged for Breonna Taylor’s killing and only faced charges for the wanton endangerment of her white neighbors was a slap in the face of Breonna and her family.”
And in our opinion another gross miscarriage of justice, which has become a sort of mantra when white officers gun down Black unarmed citizens.
It has taken more than a generation to get at least a semblance of justice for a teenager from Chicago who was brutally killed in Mississippi in 1955, and it may take just as long for Taylor to get hers, if ever.
Like some of the lyrics from our Black National anthem, our rejoicing has risen high as the listening skies but we have also come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, and that latter perpetually outweighs the former.