After multiple probes and a grand jury concluded that the shooting of Breonna Taylor by the Louisville Police was a tragic combination of circumstances, two investigators from the LPD’s Professional Standards Unit have upset the apple cart yet again by reaching a different conclusion. It’s been just shy of fourteen months since the shooting took place and it feels like everyone and their mother have investigated the events of that night, eventually releasing all of the findings to the public for inspection. How these investigators reached this conclusion isn’t exactly clear, but they did offer something by way of an explanation. Apparently, one police officer being shot in the leg by someone in a dimly lit apartment wasn’t sufficient justification for returning fire. (The Hill)
Two investigators who conducted an internal probe into the death of Breonna Taylor determined the three Louisville Police Department (LPD) involved should not have fired shots into her apartment.
According to documents obtained by ABC News, Sgt. Andrew Meyer from the LPD’s Professional Standards Unit determined that the three officers should have held their fire after Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired a shot. Meyer’s report was supported by Lt. Jeff Artman, ABC reports.
“They took a total of thirty-two shots, when the provided circumstances made it unsafe to take a single shot. This is how the wrong person was shot and killed,” Meyer wrote in his report.
So what this report concludes is that deadly force employed by the three officers involved in the shooting “should only have been used against Walker after he fired a shot.” It goes on to say that the officer should not have taken the shot “when Walker was not a clear, isolated target, having ducked into a bedroom at the end of a dimly lit hallway.”
I’m quite sure that everyone agrees that in an ideal world, the police would only have fired at the person who had already fired on them. Further, being able to identify a “clear, isolated target” is the optimal situation. But as you will recall, Taylor and her boyfriend were in bed when the police began banging on the door. They got up and moved into the darkened hallway after the boyfriend grabbed his handgun. It was reportedly a cramped space with almost no lighting and all the cops could really see was the muzzle flash. Making the level of identification required by this report doesn’t seem possible under those circumstances.
We’re also hearing some new information here that contradicts what came out of the grand jury investigation. These two investigators claim that Kenneth Walker (the boyfriend) had “ducked into a bedroom” at the end of the dimly lit hallway. Previous reports claimed that Walker had taken his shot from the hallway in a crouched position. In either event, the visibility was low and the cops were under fire, with one officer already having been struck. Are these investigators suggesting that department policy indicates that officers should immediately retreat under those conditions (possibly leaving their wounded colleague to take additional rounds) and wait until the lighting is better?
This really doesn’t make a lot of sense. But if the detail about Walker having had time to retreat into the bedroom after firing the first shot is true, it makes me wonder how long the police waited before returning fire. It seems like that would have happened pretty much instantly, doesn’t it? They already had their weapons drawn when they came through the door. So are we to assume that Walker fired, the police held their fire for a moment, Walker ducks into the bedroom while Taylor remains standing in the hallways? And then they opened fire? (Remember that Breonna Taylor was found in the hallway, not the bedroom.)
As I said, something here really doesn’t seem to add up. Either all of the preceding investigations, including the grand jury probe, got some fundamental facts totally wrong or these investigators are reading the results in a very different way than anyone else. I still agree that Breonna Taylor should still be alive today if we could somehow turn back time. But that raid was undertaken properly with a warrant issued by a judge and the shooting was just the end of a tragic series of events that really couldn’t have been foreseen.
Perhaps even more worrisome is the question of how much this news will rile up the protesters in the streets. (Yet again.) Having this report in hand will probably toss more fuel on the fire, despite the multiple investigations that have been undertaken.