On Wednesday afternoon, the grand jury’s verdict in Breonna Taylor’s case was handed down to Judge Annie O'Connell in Louisville, Kent.
Former detective Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, a class D felony that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, for firing shots into an apartment adjacent to the one where Taylor was killed. He was not charged with Taylor’s death, and neither were the two officers he was with, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, and detective Myles Cosgrove, whom the FBI believe was the one to deliver the fatal bullet. Taylor’s family called the charges, which effectively asked the question of whether or not Hankison had put the lives of her neighbors at risk, “outrageous and offensive.”
Hankison was not charged with firing his service weapon indiscriminately into the apartment where Taylor was asleep, even though that was the explicit reason for his firing from the department in June. A warrant has been issued for Hankison’s arrest; his bail was set at $15,000.
The charges against Hankison don’t seem to add up. If firing a weapon recklessly and without regard to human life is considered a felony, presumably because someone could potentially get hurt — that a life could be lost — then what happens when a life is lost, because of those very actions? When the worst case scenario actually comes to fruition, why do we not punish to the full extent of the law?
Kamau Bell, host of CNN’s United Shades, shared his conclusion on Twitter: “Property is worth more than a Black woman.”
Brett Hankison is indicted for shooting into the apartment NEXT to Breonna Taylor & not for KILLING HER.— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) September 23, 2020
He's fired for shooting into BREONNA TAYLOR'S apartment & not for KILLING HER.
This is systemic racism.
Property is worth more than a Black woman. https://t.co/abVLkTqg1s pic.twitter.com/CwflSjR42h
In America, the livelihood of a white police officer, a man involved in cold-blooded murder, is worth more than a Black woman. The reputations of two other officers who were involved in the late night raid on the apartment, and who also opened fire on Taylor and her armed boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who claimed he did not hear the police announce themselves, are worth more than a Black woman.
If it weren’t so viscerally, gut-wrenchingly devastating, the news coming out of the Jefferson County court today would almost be amusing. Walker, who fired one shot in self-defense after the police stormed his apartment, was charged with attempted murder (those charges were dropped in June); those same police officers, who fired more than 25 bullets, were not charged at all, because they were “acting in self-defense.” The law, like a piece of clay, is shaped by the warm hands of the people in power, and those people have shown again and again that they do not value Black lives.
What is a Black woman’s life worth?
The endless injustices against Black people can be discouraging, but now is not the time for apathy, or the acceptance that the AG of Kentucky has preached about. As protestors take to the streets in Louisville, you can donate to the Louisville Community Bail Fund, or attend your own local movement.
Law enforcement has made itself, and its priorities, clear, and Black women are not on the list of what matters to them. There is no justice, and there will be no peace.