18 votes

Louisville grand jury indicts one of three officers in fatal Breonna Taylor police shooting

25 comments

  1. [22]
    scissortail
    Link
    Given the facts we have, this is an absolute abortion of justice. I hope that no one dies in the streets tonight.

    Given the facts we have, this is an absolute abortion of justice. I hope that no one dies in the streets tonight.

    10 votes
    1. [20]
      onelap32
      Link Parent
      What would you charge the officers with, and what would your arguments be?

      What would you charge the officers with, and what would your arguments be?

      6 votes
      1. [18]
        kfwyre
        Link Parent
        Not the person you asked, nor am I a lawyer, but voluntary manslaughter seems to fit everything we know about the case. "Provocation" was the shot fired by Walker, and the officers fired their...

        Not the person you asked, nor am I a lawyer, but voluntary manslaughter seems to fit everything we know about the case. "Provocation" was the shot fired by Walker, and the officers fired their weapons with intent to kill in response. I think murder is probably too high a bar to prove, and involuntary manslaughter too low of a charge given that the number of shots fired by the police officers demonstrated intent pretty clearly.

        7 votes
        1. [13]
          onelap32
          Link Parent
          Wouldn't the officers be covered under self-defense, as Walker was?

          Wouldn't the officers be covered under self-defense, as Walker was?

          2 votes
          1. [12]
            kfwyre
            Link Parent
            Looks like that's exactly what happened. In my mind, just as a lay observer of this incident, their actions were the escalation to which Walker responded in the first place, so I think Walker's...

            Looks like that's exactly what happened.

            In my mind, just as a lay observer of this incident, their actions were the escalation to which Walker responded in the first place, so I think Walker's claim to self-defense is much stronger, especially given that Walker was effectively "at home" at the time (not his, but Taylor's).

            7 votes
            1. [7]
              vektor
              Link Parent
              Also, if we allow two contradictory claims of escalating self defense, that's how things snowball out of control. If you can defend from a slap with a punch, from a punch with a warning shot, from...

              Also, if we allow two contradictory claims of escalating self defense, that's how things snowball out of control. If you can defend from a slap with a punch, from a punch with a warning shot, from a warning shot with a aimed shot and from a aimed shot with a mag dump, then every slap can cause a person to be killed without there being fault to be found. There has to be a discrete line here somewhere. The most sensible to me is to expect people who violate others in (minor) ways to not escalatingly react to self defense. That is to say, if I act in a way that can cause someone to defend themselves, that self defense is valid. I can be expected to realize that and stand down. Self defense against legal actions by clearly identifiable police officers need not be valid.

              The police being police is mostly immaterial here, since they were ununiformed and did not announce effectively.

              8 votes
              1. [6]
                psi
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                I'm not a lawyer, but I think the law is a bit clearer on this point than people realize. A couple of examples: If I pick a fight with someone, and they escalate by pulling out a knife, and I...
                • Exemplary

                I'm not a lawyer, but I think the law is a bit clearer on this point than people realize. A couple of examples:

                1. If I pick a fight with someone, and they escalate by pulling out a knife, and I escalate by pulling out a gun, I don't automatically have the right to shoot them. I have a duty to retreat (if possible), notwithstanding the fact that I started the altercation.

                  • In fact, because I started the altercation, that might undermine my claim for self-defense. This is pretty fact specific, but it's essentially the reason Kyle Rittenhouse is legally fucked, despite inevitable claims of "self-defense". If you go to protest with a gun (which you can't legally have to begin with), it undermines claims that you were just trying to defend yourself.
                2. If someone pick a fight with me, and they escalate by pulling out a knife, and I escalate by pulling out a gun, I still don't automatically have the right to shoot them.

                  • An exception is the Castle doctrine, which dates back to English common law (and earlier). Roughly, a person's home can be thought of as their own "castle", which they have a right to defend. If a burglar breaks into your home, you have no duty to retreat.

                  • Another exception is stand-your-ground, which essentially just modifies when duty to retreat is applicable (egregious example: the shooting of Trayvon Martin).

                3. If my buddy and I decide to commit armed robbery, but we bungle the heist and my buddy gets shot by a security officer, I could be charged for murder.

                In conclusion, the police are absolutely responsible for Breonna Taylor's death. If they were anyone else, they would've been charged. The only reason they haven't been charged is because they're the police.

                11 votes
                1. [2]
                  vektor
                  Link Parent
                  Ahh, cool. So basically, the law actually is a bit more reasonable here than I thought and actually thought about this. It's just that the law was ignored so as not to hurt employee morale.

                  Ahh, cool. So basically, the law actually is a bit more reasonable here than I thought and actually thought about this.

                  It's just that the law was ignored so as not to hurt employee morale.

                  3 votes
                  1. psi
                    Link Parent
                    Basically yes. There was certainly sufficient evidence to indict the officers -- a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich, if given the chance. That isn't to say the officers wouldn't have been...

                    It's just that the law was ignored so as not to hurt employee morale.

                    Basically yes. There was certainly sufficient evidence to indict the officers -- a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich, if given the chance. That isn't to say the officers wouldn't have been able to raise a compelling defense; the police have privileges other citizens don't (eg, qualified immunity, though that particular privilege wouldn't really apply in a criminal case against the officers). Unfortunately, rather than let the courts handle it, the attorney general effectively ended the investigation.

                    4 votes
                2. [3]
                  no_exit
                  Link Parent
                  I could easily be misreading but the conversation in the link seems to indicate the exact opposite. [...]

                  but it's essentially the reason Kyle Rittenhouse is legally fucked, despite inevitable claims of "self-defense"

                  I could easily be misreading but the conversation in the link seems to indicate the exact opposite.

                  Let me read this one to you. So subsection 1 defines causing the death of another human being with intent to kill that person. Subsection 2 contains the mitigating circumstances that I just talked about and I read the two relevant ones. Then subsection 3 says “when the existence of an affirmative defense” under subsection 2, those arguments that I just made, “has been placed in issue by the trial evidence” and again that includes testimonial evidence. That includes putting Kyle on the stand and having him say “I was afraid of my life and I was afraid these violent looters were going to burn down a building.” The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the facts constituting the defense did not exist in order to sustain a finding of guilt under subsection 1.

                  [...]

                  I’ve never, ever seen – not just flips the burden, but flips the burden to “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” that it doesn’t exist? I’m befuddled as to how anybody gets convicted of first-degree murder in the state of Wisconsin.

                  2 votes
                  1. [2]
                    psi
                    Link Parent
                    They clarify a couple episodes later. First the gist: I'd recommend reading the parts immediately proceeding for more discussion on the castle doctrine/stand-your-ground. As for the specific...

                    They clarify a couple episodes later. First the gist:

                    Thomas: And, by the way, even if you wanna go, and I wanna ask you this as a question, Andrew. Say you put the facts totally in Rittenhouse’s corner on that, hypothetically. Totally signal that we don’t know this, but let’s say under the best of circumstances for Rittenhouse that he was under some sort of attack initially. A, he kills a person, and then he continues running away with a gun and instead of, like, dropping the firearm, or surrendering or anything like that, he kills another person and shoots another person. Even under the greatest of facts there he would still be guilty of homicide, right?

                    Andrew: Oh yeah. He would still be guilty of at least one statutory homicide under Wisconsin law. The real question there, and this overlaps with, you know, we’ve talked about stand your ground laws and the like.

                    I'd recommend reading the parts immediately proceeding for more discussion on the castle doctrine/stand-your-ground.

                    As for the specific concern you mentioned regarding Wisconsin statute:

                    Thomas: [...] Let’s get to our listener comment here, the first one we have says “Hi Thomas and Andrew, I’ve been a prosecutor for five years and my husband was previously a prosecutor. While listening to episode 416 I couldn’t help but take issue with your characterization of Wisconsin’s self defense statute. Wisconsin’s statute, while worded slightly weirdly, operates exactly like self defense does in a majority of jurisdictions. The defendant bears the initial burden of presenting some evidence to support a self defense claim, but once he does the prosecution bears the burden of disproving the claim beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s a majority rule, this is precisely what makes self-defense cases so difficult to prove.”

                    Okay, I know you had the question about that at the time, so sounds like a prosecutor is saying this isn’t much different than any other jurisdiction?

                    Andrew: Yeah, that’s exactly what she said and I looked it up and she’s 100% right. This is why I try and put error bars when I’m opining about practice in criminal law, I make it very clear I am not a criminal attorney and I have a limited range of experience with that. I’m gonna link a case in the show note, United States v. Thomas, 34 F.3d 44 from the 2nd Circuit from 1994 that is illustrative that says it’s not just at the state level in virtually every state but also at the federal level that the court – and this is how this comes out in how the judge issues instructions to the jury. In this case the defendant successfully challenged the jury instructions as being insufficient that the government has the burden of disproving self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt once it is raised by a defendant. So, she’s right and I’m wrong, there’s a little bit of a nuance to that, but no. Thank you. We put out the call, I asked, and I really, really appreciate being so informed.

                    Basically these are just the regular "beyond a reasonable doubt" requirements.

                    3 votes
            2. [4]
              Eabryt
              Link Parent
              I think from what I've heard the report states that the police announced themselves before entering, which in my mind would make a self-defense ruling much harder to come by? I don't know, all I...

              I think from what I've heard the report states that the police announced themselves before entering, which in my mind would make a self-defense ruling much harder to come by?

              I don't know, all I know is I'm hoping they release more information on the investigation to help provide some transparency.

              1 vote
              1. [3]
                kfwyre
                Link Parent
                This is one of the contested points of the case: I also think hinging it on whether or not they did is a bit of a red herring in this, given how fraught the situation was. They could have well...

                This is one of the contested points of the case:

                Court records show that Louisville police obtained a warrant with a no-knock provision for Taylor's apartment approved by Jefferson Circuit Judge Mary Shaw, though police and prosecutors have said that the officers knocked and announced themselves before breaking down the door.

                Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, has said he heard pounding at the door, but he did not hear anyone announce they were police.He fired one shot at 12:43 a.m., according to his arrest citation, thinking intruders were breaking in. [...]

                Those same attorneys say neighbors did not hear police announce themselves before entering.

                I also think hinging it on whether or not they did is a bit of a red herring in this, given how fraught the situation was. They could have well announced it but also not have been heard or understood. Walker's 911 call identifies that he was disoriented and refers to "someone" shooting Taylor, not police, indicating that even if they did announce he wasn't aware:

                "I don't know what happened ... somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend," Walker told the dispatcher. When asked where Taylor had been shot, Walker replied, "I don't know, she is on the ground right now. I don't know, I don't know."

                Also, even if the police did announce themselves, they didn't have to under the purview of a no-knock warrant. This is why no-knock warrants have come under such scrutiny as a result of this case, given that it's incredibly hard to argue that Taylor's apartment was deserving of such a measure in the first place.

                7 votes
                1. vektor
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  They were in plainclothes. Them announcing is completely irrelevant to common sense, because anyone can announce with minimal effort. Improvise a ram from gym weights, grab a gun, beat a door down...

                  They were in plainclothes. Them announcing is completely irrelevant to common sense, because anyone can announce with minimal effort. Improvise a ram from gym weights, grab a gun, beat a door down and yell police. Boom, you're robbing someone who now has no way of telling whether his life is in danger if he shoots or if he stands down.

                  That says nothing about the legality of the situation, just the morality.

                  7 votes
                2. Eabryt
                  Link Parent
                  Oh believe me, I'm not on the police side, nor do I 100% believe that the record is totally correct, just wanted to bring up something I'd heard. I also remember back when these protests kicked...

                  Oh believe me, I'm not on the police side, nor do I 100% believe that the record is totally correct, just wanted to bring up something I'd heard.

                  I also remember back when these protests kicked off hearing reports that Walker fired at the ground/lower body as "warning shots" like you're supposed to do(?), while the police were shooting at upper bodies/for the head.

                  1 vote
        2. [4]
          vegai
          Link Parent
          20 rounds from 3 officers is not a lot.

          20 rounds from 3 officers is not a lot.

          1. [3]
            kfwyre
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I don't think it's about a lot versus a little but more that the number of shots fired clears the bar to prove intent. A single shot or a few shots could be explained as warnings or even...

            I don't think it's about a lot versus a little but more that the number of shots fired clears the bar to prove intent. A single shot or a few shots could be explained as warnings or even accidental, but that many is unequivocal.

            6 votes
            1. [2]
              vegai
              Link Parent
              Sure, at least it can be agreed that they were trying to stop the shooter at that point.

              Sure, at least it can be agreed that they were trying to stop the shooter at that point.

              1 vote
              1. kfwyre
                Link Parent
                I agree that they were, but let's not lose sight of the fact that an innocent person died as a result of their actions either.

                I agree that they were, but let's not lose sight of the fact that an innocent person died as a result of their actions either.

                4 votes
      2. RapidEyeMovement
        Link Parent
        the DA 'lost' the case when he corroborated the statement that the policed 'knocked and announced that they were police officers' If that is what the jury heard... I don't know if I can blame them.

        the DA 'lost' the case when he corroborated the statement that the policed 'knocked and announced that they were police officers'

        If that is what the jury heard... I don't know if I can blame them.

        1 vote
  2. vegai
    Link
    If we look at root causes, this seems more like a drug war casualty than a police brutality one. The origin of the drug war of course is deeply racist, so there's that.

    If we look at root causes, this seems more like a drug war casualty than a police brutality one. The origin of the drug war of course is deeply racist, so there's that.

    4 votes
  3. [2]
    no_exit
    Link
    no charges actually related to Taylor's murder this country is deeply evil

    no charges actually related to Taylor's murder

    this country is deeply evil

    14 votes
    1. ThatLinuxUser
      Link Parent
      It's Kentucky, which even though it is absolutely awful it doesn't pertain to the actual shooting, it's not very surprising either because southern states tend to justify practically anything if...

      It's Kentucky, which even though it is absolutely awful it doesn't pertain to the actual shooting, it's not very surprising either because southern states tend to justify practically anything if it even barely aligns to what they believe. On the other hand officers that have done shooting in Washington and Oregon is much more likely to get indicted as their state governments are generally more progressive.

      1 vote