Home is supposed to be a safe haven

Two months ago, Breonna Taylor, an EMT in Louisville, thought her home was a safe haven. The thought that the people who would break that covenant are police probably was not top of mind. Oh, by the way, this hard working EMT is dead. She was also African-American.

The following paragraphs from an updated article tell the tragic story.

Breonna Taylor: Family files lawsuit after Louisville police shoot EMT 8 times in ‘botched’ drug raid

By: Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group (updated May 13, 2020)

“Breonna Taylor was pulling long hours at two of Louisville’s hospitals as an emergency room technician and certified EMT working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic as the disease began spreading throughout the U.S.

Taylor was home asleep with her boyfriend in the early morning hours of March 13 when police officers executing a drug warrant busted down their door and opened fire, killing her. The 26-year-old was shot at least eight times.

No drugs were found in the couple’s home. Neither Taylor nor her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, had a history of drug arrests, according to a lawsuit filed by her family.”

This wrongful invasion and killing happened two months ago. It is only now making national news. Why? She waa shot eight times in her own bed. Why?

We just learned about Ahmaud Arbery’s vigilante murder a few weeks ago. Why is it that murders of African-Americans are happening and failing to garner attention?

We cannot tolerate vigilantism in our country. And, we must ask our police to get it right before they charge into someone’s house in the middle of the night.

There seem to be open questions about what happened. The warrant said the police could enter without knocking. The police said they knocked first before entering. Yet, there were no body cameras in use to tell us what happened. Taylor’s boyfriend has been arrested for attempted homicide as he allegedly fired at an officer, but has pleaded innocent due to self-defense.

I know police have a dangerous job. Yet, they must do everything in their power to get it right. One of my recurring concerns is why so many shots? Too many times I read eight, eleven, fifteen and even 41 shots, like the infamous Springsteen song, when a person of color is involved. And, why must the warrant be served in a manner which is conducive to confrontation? Awakened people are likely scared out of their wits. I know I would be.

We owe it to Taylor’s parents to understand why their daughter is dead? Why did a devoted EMT, bone tired from helping people, have to die? Why did she have to be shot eight times? Why did police feel a forced entry in the middle of the night was the best route? And, one final question, would the raid have been in the middle of the night if the suspects were white or, maybe more affluent and white?

I do know this. If this were your or my child, we would feel every bit as upset at what happened as Taylor’s parents. We would want some damn answers.

30 thoughts on “Home is supposed to be a safe haven

  1. I read of this a couple of days ago, and wondered the same as you … Why are we just now hearing of this??? Perhaps the bigger question is why does our society, even our police, automatically view people of colour as suspicious, dangerous, while the most crimes in this nation are committed by Caucasians? There is a cultural disconnect here … and good, innocent people are dying, being denied jobs & housing, and more just because their skin is darker. Good post, Keith …

  2. A tragedy beyond words. There is racial profiling in Canada, for sure, but without the proliferation of guns, we don’t of hear of things like this very often. (I’m sure I’ll be shot for this comment.)

    • VJ, we take killing to an art form here. It is truly sad. I saw a stat on gun death rates. The comment made is Canada loves its guns, but has a far less gun death per capita than the US. I want to say it is 1/3 of the US rate, but the survey is about ten years old. My guess is it is relatively less nowadays. Keith

      • Hunters and farmers have long guns. The rest of us don’t keep them. Stats that I’ve read indicate more people are killed by their own guns than saved by them.

      • VJ, true. Here in the states, about 60% of gun deaths annually, are suicides. Yet, for the longest time the NRA influenced Congress to deny a doctor the ability to ask if a gun is present in thr house or the CDC to track gun deaths. Keith

    • Alison, it makes you sad and angry. You may recall about six months ago, a tired officer went home to her apartment and entered another person’s apartment by mistake. She shot and killed the man thinking he was a burglar. Keith

  3. Given the fact that the police must risk their lives for very little pay the temptation to cheat and even to shoot first must be immense. We need to pay the police more — as we do other important elements within society (such as teachers). This will help attract more and brighter people to those careers.

    • Hugh, being a former coach, you know the impact stress has on a player. John Smoltz spoke of his success as a pitcher in the World Series as being able to keep his performance the same under stress, while others declined. Thinking of this for police officers, they know they are entering a stressful situation, so they must do everything to minimize that stress or performance may be impacted. I think shooting more times than needed and shooting in the first place is heightened in stress. Yet, with a well armed society as we are, stress is heightened to begin with.

      Better pay would help. Consistent training around shooting would help. Reducing stressful circumstances would help. If they feel night raids are safer, then would it be better to conduct the raid near dawn when you can see better? I feel so sorry for this woman and her family. Keith

  4. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    It’s happened yet again … well, two months ago, though we are just now hearing about it. The victim? An EMT, innocently sleeping in her own bed after a long shift spent trying to save lives. Her crime? Being black. Thank you, Keith, for bringing this one to our attention. Where does it end?

  5. It’s outrageous for sure. And for me it’s another example of how the war on drugs does more harm than good. The No-Knock warrant is the most dangerous warrant police can serve, and its purpose is to keep suspects from destroying drug evidence. If drugs were legalized or at least decriminalized, these kinds of tragedies wouldn’t occur.

  6. Let’s face it. A great number of law enforcers are big bully cowards. They have no compunction in shooting and killing others,, just don’t shoot at one of them. Once in the police service, it doesn’t seem to matter if you are black, other coloured, or white. The environment teaches everyone to be afraid of those different from them. Shoot first, ask questions later, is a prominent feature of fear.
    It is time for law enforcement agencies to need university degrees in at least the basics of law. If they cannot pass university, they don’t deserve to have guns in their hands. This won’t clean up everything, but it is a start.

    • Rawgod, thanks for your thoughts. Selection, training, retraining will be keys. Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” about how we make instant decisions is a good read. It includes a chapter on police shootings. Our subconscious is a compilation of experiences, so the training is critical in shaping some of the experiences.

      Two things concern me – the shooting to kill and frequency of shots is one. The other is the frequency of questionable shootings of Blacks. We must ask tough questions and train folks better. Keith

      • The questions are obvious, there is no reason they should have to be tough, just asked. As far as shooting non-whites, that is a rule of mob-think. One person shoots, everyone else shoots too. Later they ask themselves why, but no one knows.

      • So true. This took two months to make national news. There are groups that scour stories like this and publicize them, yet this one garnered little attention. I sense a brush-under-the-rug mindset.

    • Scottie, thanks for sharing these. Walker’s house is where the informant said transactions had been done, so it was the first warrant. The second warrant is for Taylor’s house because they thought Walker might have stored drugs there. How about an extra step – what does Taylor do for a living? Do we think she might be involved? Since she was not listed on the first warrant, maybe the should not break down the door in the middle of the night? This is what I mean by make sure you get it right and do it in the right way. Keith

      • Hello Keith. I agree. They did not need that because good police practice would wait until both occupants were away from the house and then detain them. Catch them leaving the house, showing up at work, then serve the warrants and go search the house. This is legally used all over the country. Why was it not used here? Were the police wanting to cosplay some type of secret agent spy swat team. The whole raid is stupid and suspicious because it was not needed. The police knew the movements of these people, they knew when they were out of the house, they knew when they were at work. I am afraid this was a case of racism where the white police officers wanted to scare the black people in their community so they would fear the police and also whites. It is a undeclared race war. Hugs

      • Scottie, all excellent points. A lot of why questions need to be asked and answered. It is akin to chasing a speeding car in the middle of traffic. Get the license plate and let them go. Keith

  7. I am disgusted and horrified by these reports. I just don’t understand how these things can happen. Perhaps we need to do more in depth screening when hiring police, or do more training of police? But it’s much deeper than that. Why is it always people of color? Stories like these need to be told. We hear of more incidents in the States than we do in Canada, but I can’t say it couldn’t or doesn’t happen north of the border. As I have family that are police officers in Canada I do know that there is much ‘sensitivity’ training in our police forces – perhaps that’s key to preventing situations like this. My heart goes out to the families involved. I hope they investigate the hell out of the story and that heads roll as a result.

    • Thanks. It is horrifying. Your suggestions are good ones. One of the things the Pilot’s Union does is when a crash occurs, they help get to the bottom of it. This not done with the same zeal as with the pilots.

      I am reminded of Paul O’Neill, who turned Alcoa around. His first focus was on safety, which he felt management and the unions could both support. Shortly into his tenure, a plant death occurred. He got his executive staff together and said “we killed this man.” He wanted to know in 24 hours why the man died and how future deaths could be prevented. That is an exemplar. Keith

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