Frustrated! College Students React to Grand Jury Decision in Breonna Taylor’s Killing

Garth A. Rose

Photo credit: via https://www.ctvnews.ca/

As emotions explode, nationwide, over the Louisville, Kentucky grand jury decision not to charge police officers in the controversial killing of Breonna Taylor—a group of six local, mostly frustrated, college students gathered at a South Miami restaurant on Thursday morning to reflect on the decision.  

Taylor, a 26-year-old  was shot and killed on the night of March 13 when three Louisville, Kentucky police officers entered her apartment to execute an alleged no-knock warrant while her partner Kenneth Walker slept. According to reports, Walker was awakened on hearing the apartment door being breached, and as the policemen entered, not knowing who they were, fired his gun at them. The police aggressively returned fire, and in the process shot and killed Taylor.

Following the announcement of the grand jury decision Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, an African-American confirmed Taylor was shot six times, and one of those six shots killed her. 

But, to the dismay of the college students, and many Americans, on Wednesday the grand jury indicted only one of the three officers involved in the fatal shooting of Taylor, but none of three charges against the officer, Brett Hankison, were related to Taylor’s death. Rather, Hankison is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment because bullets shot at Taylor and Walker went into a neighboring apartment.

Cameron indicated the policemen were justified in firing several bullets in the apartment at Taylor and Walker, because Walker first fired on the police officers.

“This decision is really demoralizing and a slap in the face of the black community,” said Brandon Gaynier, one of the six students.

Gaynier, a Guyanese, was one of two Caribbean students, among the group of self-acclaimed Black Lives Matter activists who contemplated, “if the movement is really taking traction.”

The other Caribbean student, a Jamaican who asked to be referred to only as “Steel,” said he and his colleagues, including four African Americans, were involved with other students and young people across South Florida in peaceful Black Lives Matter protests since the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by police in Minnesota in May.

“All over the country, people involved in this movement to put a stop to the of police killing of Black men and women, and obtain due justice against police officers involved in these killings, have been marching and protesting…but the killings continue, and the relatives of those killed find little justice. I am wondering if our protests really matter,” said Steel. 

Daniel Lake, an African American, said although the Louisville Grand Jury decision “is a body blow” the “movement must continue. The movement must not be deterred.”

Lake, a law student, said it was “really frustrating that Kentucky AG Cameron, who is the special investigator of Taylor’s killing, led an investigation that found no wrong in police entering a woman’s home and shooting killing her when she did not threaten or attack them. He did not even suggest her death could have been accidental manslaughter.”

Continuing Lake said, “In reality, none of the three officers have been found with any fault in the killing of Breonna. This is wrong. If the cop charged with wanton endangerment is convicted, it only carries a maximum five-year sentence.”

Gaynier said he had a “gut feeling” that Taylor’s family would not be receiving any justice from the investigation into Taylor’s death when last week the family was offered $12 million in compensation by Kentucky officials. “My gut feeling was right. As it turns out, that payment was hush money. Breonna’s mother and other family members will likely never receive justice.”

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