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On a Louisville night in March 2020, Breonna Taylor was asleep in her bed, and then she was killed when officers stormed in during a botched drug raid. Since that moment, the public has pleaded for answers and accountability. Yet, both remain a long-shot.
Lawyers in the trial of former Kentucky police officer Brett Hankison returned to court Tuesday to complete an extended jury selection process. The trial isn’t about the killing of Breonna Taylor, but rather about an officer whose bullet landed in a nearby apartment.
According to The Associated Press, 48 potential jurors returned on Tuesday, narrowed down last week from an initial pool of 250. Out of those 250, only 12 people and three alternates will ultimately sit for the case.
Hankison is charged with wanton endangerment for shooting into the apartment of one of Taylor’s neighbors. He was then fired a few months later. Hankison, whose shots did not hit Taylor, is the only officer charged in the controversial no-knock raid.
Justice for Breonna Taylor
Breonna’s family has remained steadfast, in and out of court with Louisville city officials and its police dept. Breonna Taylor’s family sued the Louisville Police Department over questions about LPD officers’ body camera videos on the night she was killed by law enforcement. Her family also settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the city of Louisville. Much like Sandra Bland’s family, Black people are often killed first and families compensated later.
One of the officers who shot Taylor, former Louisville police detective Jonathan Mattingly, has invoked the Fifth Amendment. He won’t testify at the trial due to a pending federal investigation. Instead, jurors will hear parts of a video deposition Mattingly gave in a pending civil lawsuit.
But will it be a fair trial with fair jurors?
Jury selection is important, especially in a trial involving a martyred victim like Breonna Taylor. Many attorneys would say having the right pool of jurors can often make or break their arguments. Race in jury selection has always been pervasive in American courtrooms as well.
Catherine Grosso, a Michigan State University law professor states that attorneys too often “rely on stereotypes like who is going to be sympathetic or not.” Grosso co-authored a seminal 2012 study of death penalty cases in North Carolina. The study found that Black people were removed from juries at more than twice the rate of other races. This is America.
Breonna deserved better.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who worked as an emergency medical technician, was shot multiple times during a botched narcotics raid on March 13, 2020. Louisville officers kicked in her door using a narcotics warrant. In a split-second response, Taylor’s boyfriend drew fire, thinking an intruder was breaking in. Two officers at the door returned fire, killing Taylor.
Her death sparked immediate outrage, vociferous protests and worldwide attention. However, no one has thus far been charged with her murder.