By Nia Satterfield Brown '21
In the aftermath of Breonna Taylor’s death, there have been many demonstrations demanding justice for the 26-year-old who was killed in her own home back in March. While the evidence of misconduct in her case is overwhelming, Breonna Taylor still has not received justice.
On September 23rd, a grand jury announced Brett Hankison, one of the officers involved in the shooting, was charged—not with Taylor’s death—but for “wanton endangerment.” Once again, he was not charged for killing Taylor. He was charged for endangering the lives of individuals in the neighboring apartment.
According to the New York Times, Hakinson’s crime is classified as a Class D felony in Kentucky, which holds a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine for each count. His bail was set at $15,000. Hankison was the only officer out of three who was charged.
This verdict was a shock and further demonstrated the inequities within the criminal justice system in regard to Black lives. Taylor’s life was completely disregarded in this ruling, with her neighbors—who are still alive—receiving justice before her. Her case is only one in a long list of mistreatment of Black people. We hoped and prayed that Hankison would be charged for Taylor’s death. We hoped that finally, there would be some type of justice heard as our pleas were heard in communities across the world. Once again, however, we were failed by a system that neglects Black lives.
This case emphasizes the notion that when your skin color is Black, there is a different set of rules for officers to abide by. These guidelines are strikingly different when your skin color is white, and had Taylor been white, it would not have taken months for her to receive justice. It is crucial to recognize the difference in treatment between Black and white individuals. This system proves time and time again that its actions only benefit the elite. In an attempt to make up for the loss, the city gave the Taylor family a settlement of $12 million dollars. No amount of money will make up for the murder of Breonna Taylor. This verdict is nonsensical. How can wanton endangerment be given to Taylor’s neighbors but not to her? How has her murder been completely overlooked? The city of Louisville has failed to hold itself accountable, they have failed the Black community and they have failed Breonna. This verdict hurt, but our fight will not stop here.