Breonna Taylor’s Supporters Face Felony Charges; Her Murderers Face Nothing

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Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Know what would get his attention? If every single EMT in the city decided to stop working until charges were brought.Report

  2. Avatar Dark Matter says:

    Hankison has been fired for ‘”wantonly and blindly” firing into Taylor’s apartment without determining whether any person presented “an immediate threat” or whether there were “any innocent persons present”‘ (wiki). Sounds like he was lucky he didn’t shoot any of his co-workers (it’s believed he didn’t shoot anyone).

    As for the “protesters”, yeah, having a mob go to someone’s home to intimidate him and his family seems more like organized crime than civil protest. Dude works at public buildings, go there.Report

    • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Dark Matter says:

      1. Let me know when other (attempted) murderers are let off with a firing.

      2. “a mob” as if it wasn’t a group of people that marched to Cameron’s house and sat on his front lawn. Kinda gives the game away when that counts as “a mob”; and, again, if being at someone’s house in a non-threatening manner is bad, just imagine what being at somebody’s house with a willingness to kill must represent.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

        Let me know when other (attempted) murderers are let off with a firing.

        Ideally firing would be a minimum and not a maximum. In reality, firing is an improvement.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dark Matter says:

          firing is an improvement, but it lots of prior cases, that’s where it has stopped, and fired officers are often rehired either in other departments or in their own department after lengthy and costly battles with the police union.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dark Matter says:

      As for the “protesters”, yeah, having a mob go to someone’s home to intimidate him and his family seems more like organized crime than civil protest. Dude works at public buildings, go there.

      That’s about the most intellectually lazy argument I’ve seen from you.People sitting and chanting – even siting and yelling – threaten no one. They were exercising their right under the First Amendment to both peaceably assemble and petition for redress. There’s nothing in the Constitution about doing that 9-5 in government offices.

      And given that its now come out that her ex-boyfriend (the target of the warrant) was being arrested due to policing that appears to be aimed at gentrification of his neighborhood (and he was already in custody), it seems the local authorities are way more threatening then the citizens.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Philip H says:

        The First Amendment doesn’t confer the right to trespass on someone’s property. In fact, the Founders were sticklers about property rights. George Washington sued people who merely squatted on his land. Beyond that, intimidation of government officials in such a manner is a crime, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, depending on how close the party escalates towards murder.

        Having someone show up on your porch and say “Nice family you got there, be a shame if something happened to them.” is not allowed. Not at all. If it was, right-wing militias or narco-Colombian terrorists would be in charge of a US puppet government, because they would just set up some machine gun nests on every official’s front lawn.

        You don’t see that because it’s illegal. If you allow that, armed thugs will rule by proxy. Government officials must be free to act according to the law and their conscience without threats and intimidation, other than the public protests in public spaces (or somebody else’s private spaces), nasty attack ads, and the usual measures we use to let politicians know we strongly disagree with their policies.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Philip H says:

        People sitting and chanting – even siting and yelling – threaten no one.

        So you’d be cool with 85 KKK members on someone’s front lawn shouting racial slogans? No potential ethical problems with them yelling they know where the children sleep?

        You don’t consider that sort of thing to be at all threatening?Report

        • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Dark Matter says:

          This is the I need a 30 round magazine because what if M-13 invades my home of arguments against protest.

          The group was chanting Breonna Taylor, and the call and response of What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.

          From the article linked in the post:

          The Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police also endorsed Cameron, as did prosecutors, sheriffs and jailers across the state.

          Berl Purdue, the state FOP president, said Cameron would “be there for us in the future. Not in the short run, but in the long run.”

          In accepting the endorsement from the FOP, Cameron said he saw the role of attorney general as being an advocate for prosecutors and the law enforcement community, and “making sure that they know they have a voice in the attorney general’s office.”

          Cameron’s in the tank for the cops, and that’s why this investigation has taken as long as it has.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

            Cameron’s in the tank for the cops, and that’s why this investigation has taken as long as it has.

            Highly likely (although he is Black if it matters).

            So… you’re good pulling his wife and kids into this because of that?

            Under what conditions does the other side get to do that to your side’s politician’s children?Report

            • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Dark Matter says:

              So… you’re good pulling his wife and kids into this because of that?

              According to Wikipedia, he has no children, and the wife of a public figure has to expect that kind of stuff.

              If my side’s politician is aiding the cover up of a murder, then I’m all for seeking justice wherever she may be hiding.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

                According to Wikipedia, he has no children,

                Wiki isn’t stalkerware, it deals with public announcements. It’d be real easy for a mid-level state politician to not want his young children listed and his house hits the radar as “family home”. I think at best we don’t know.

                the wife of a public figure has to expect that kind of stuff.

                Political Drama perhaps. Large potentially violent groups showing up on her front lawn? I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.

                If my side’s politician is aiding the cover up of a murder, then I’m all for seeking justice wherever she may be hiding.

                We just tried mob rule in Seattle. We quickly ended up with minority children being shot because they “might” have been criminals.

                But fine, if you’re good with this tactic then can 100 abortion protestors to do this to every politician who dares prevent the murder of the unborn? Camp out on his front lawn with his wife and children hiding in the house? Can they do this every day? How about a 100 skin heads who don’t want their brother charged with some racist murder? Is that still “justice”?Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dark Matter says:

                considering that abortion clinics have been bombed and abortion doctors murdered . . . you might want to rethink that analogy just a titch bit.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Philip H says:

                Considering the number of violent (or “mostly non-violent”) protests we’ve seen, imho the analogy is great.Report

              • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I’m of the opinion that there hasn’t been enough civil disobedience in the protests following Floyd, and the Cameron lawn thing is a good example of people doing it right. The protest was peaceful, as were the arrests. “Potentially violent” groups is what got those nitwits in St. Louis in hot water, and Cameron is no better. It just happens that the people in Louisville camped on the lawn of a guy who has the full power of the state at his disposal, and wasn’t too embarrassed to use it.

                Let’s see what happens with the prosecutions of these charges, before we get all up in arms. They still have to prove the cases.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

                the Cameron lawn thing is a good example of people doing it right. The protest was peaceful, as were the arrests.

                Very much agreed. Now a big part of traditional civil disobedience is breaking the law, getting arrested, and probably pleading guilty.

                If that’s where we’re at then I’m fine with everything. What they did hits the radar as something which is supposed to be illegal. They feel strongly enough about everything to break the law and potentially do time. In theory there’s so many of them, and they were well behaved, that the system will go easy.

                However, if they have to do time for their convictions then they have to do time, this is what pardons are for.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

                A big part of civil disobediance is being willing to suffer the consequences of your actions. IE if they are charged with a felony then they need to be prepared to actually wear that as a badge of honor in this whole thing.

                But, if they are treated as many of my friends were protesting the local nuke plant; ie cuffed and released an hour later with zero consequences, it just looks like a joke. LARPing civil rights protests as opposed to saying how much this matters to them.

                If there is nothing on the line, everyone can see it, and judge it accordingly.Report

              • If they’re charged with the misdemeanor they actually committed (trespassing), sure, that’s suffering the consequences of their actions.

                If they’re charged with a trumped-up felony (intimidation), that’s the government criminalizing protest.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Again, you’re not allowed to protest on somebody’s property if they object. That is Klan tactics. In castle doctrine states the AG could have used lethal force to get them off his lawn.

                If you’re doing something for which you can legally be shot, you’re probably doing something wrong.

                The felony charge is for trying to forcefully influence the outcome of a legal proceeding. Judges, jurors, prosecutors, witnesses, and defense attorneys are completely off limits.

                I think the protester’s defense attorneys will likely focus on the felony charge’s key phrase of “physical force or a threat” and the definition of those terms in Kentucky law, to argue that the protester’s actions didn’t meet the required definition of “threat.” They’ll have to take a deep dive into Kentucky case law.

                If a case turns out of be unduly influence by outside intimidation, the defendants will either get a new trial or walk on appeal. We don’t let mobs forcefully tip the scales of justice, which are meant to impartially weigh both sides of a case. It’s like it’s a requirement or something.

                Why are liberals so determined to re-institute Jim Crow era norms of behavior? “Hey, lets form an angry mob, go down to the black lawyer’s house, stand on his lawn, and start chanting and hurling abuse!” I guess our state quit having students read “To Kill a Mockingbird” because someone thought it was triggering.Report

              • I’ll listen to Burt, who’s actually an attorney, on the subject of what constitutes a threat. but since you brought it up:

                Police breaking into house without announcing themselves are indistinguishable from armed intruders. The legal occupants have the right to shoot armed intruders, under both castle doctrine and simple self-defense. In your words:

                “If you’re doing something for which you can legally be shot, you’re probably doing something wrong.”Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                And that’s clearly a problem with no-knock warrants.

                Not every homicide is a murder. Sometimes two parties can be completely within their rights when things go pear shaped and both sides are legally okay to open fire on each other.

                If such situations arise too frequently, we see if we can come up with a rule to eliminate the problematic area. Dueling is an example of homicides where neither party faced prosecution. Thankfully, we eliminated it.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to George Turner says:

                Judges, jurors, prosecutors, witnesses, and defense attorneys are completely off limits.

                Elected District Attorneys are never off limits, one of the perks of being elected. The investigators and attorneys working for the DA are off limits, but when you win the popularity contest, you have to suffer the popularity, good and bad.

                At best those folks are guilty of trespassing.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Would it be ok if it was the KKK then, Oscar? Because that is what you are essentially saying.

                Yes, an elected DA is, and should be, subject to electoral and other pressures, but we shouldn’t allow to groups we favor to have things we would deny those we disfavor. Burt, down below, lists the felony statute. KRS 524.040 I believe. So, it is a real thing, he can use it, and it is upon us to decide if we want him in this position going forward. (well, Louisvillians at least.)Report

              • Yup, if it were the KKK and they did no worse than trespass, they should only be charged with trespassing.Report

              • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

                For the record here, the felony charges have all been dropped.Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

            I’m not sure Cameron can even find out anything. The Louisville mayor, a Democrat, has decided to be a roadblock, perhaps because he won’t work with a black man.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dark Matter says:

          The KKK burns crosses and trespasses to perpetrate violence. They intend to do harm from the get go to maintain their perceived political and racial power. They don’t just show up to shout.

          As noted below these protesters were not violent and did nothing other then chanting for justice – which is entirely democratic. If a DA feels threatened by crowds calling for justice in a murder investigation he is leading – perhaps he needs a new line of work and not arrest warrants.Report

          • Avatar Turgid Jacobian in reply to Philip H says:

            YesReport

          • Avatar Pinky in reply to Philip H says:

            The KKK shows up to intimidate, which is what the protesters were doing.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

              This logically means that at any gathering of any KKK members, anywhere at any time the individuals can each be charged with a felony.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                It means that we need one set of rules that covers both sets of “protesters” and deals with their sense of “outrage”. You don’t get one set of rules for when you agree with them and another set when you don’t.

                If you’re cool with the BLM being on someone’s front lawn as long as THIS set is “not violent” then you also need to be cool with the KKK doing the same thing.

                In general we let these sorts of things happen in public places and without pulling in 3rd parties, i.e. uninvolved relatives, children and so on.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Or to put that differently: The first black to move into a neighborhood should always be protected from “protestors” showing up on his front lawn.

                The gov official who is (not?) doing something should be protected at home in private spaces and as a private person but not at work in public spaces as a public person. His children should always be protected and so on.

                On a side note: Baltimore’s Freddy Gray was an example of what not to do. Agree with the protestors, do what they want, and then have everything fall apart in court. Courts are designed to not allow mob rule, the narrative isn’t admissible.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                We already have such a set of rules.

                We don’t arrest people who are peacefully assembling, whether they are BLM or KKK members.

                In this case, the government broke the rules.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                They’re on a fine line here. The truth is in the eye of the beholder.

                If everyone involved, including any uninvolved family members, thought this was a joke then that’s what it was and the gov is over reacting.

                If only some of people thought that and uninvolved family thought the house burning down was a reasonable possibility then the gov isn’t over reacting.

                I think the real question is how much planning went into this. If the protesters let the powers that be know it was coming so anyone who didn’t want to be there could be missing then they’re probably fine.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The people were arrested for trespassing, right, not for intimidating? I don’t know if intimidating people is against any law. I’m with Dark Matter on this one. If well-meaning decent people or awful monsters trespass, they’re trespassing. If the best or worst of mankind assemble according to the relevant laws, it’s a lawful assembly.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                See Burt’s comment on this thread.Report

  3. The Intimidation charge is BS; the AG clearly didn’t feel threatened. Given what a felony conviction does to someone’s life, the charge was simply an attempt to cancel the protesters.Report

  4. Avatar George Turner says:

    The Taylor case is legally complex. The officers were serving a no-knock warrant that didn’t require them to announce themselves. They didn’t rule in the court case that allowed no-knock warrants, and they didn’t pass any laws allowing no-knock warrants, they didn’t write the police policy on no-knock warrants, and they didn’t approve the warrant. They were just the pointy end of the spear.

    The case against the protesters, in contrast, was simple. Nobody ordered them to trespass, and nobody ordered them to refuse to stop trespassing. Physical intimidation and threats are not the route to achieve justice in our legal system, and are in fact using those are wildly illegal. For example, it’s also illegal to threaten to kill jurors’ families.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to George Turner says:

      This defense is stupid and it’s what causes people to feel like they have no choice but to protest in such an extreme way. Not sure I’ve ever said this before but Sam is 100% right and any defense of this level of state incompetence is 100% wrong. It’s rare but I’m comfortable saying there’s no nuance here whatsoever.Report

      • Avatar jason in reply to InMD says:

        What? You’re not going to buy the Nuremberg defense that George is offering?Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to InMD says:

        People are conflating two different issues. One issue is whether we allow no-knock warrants (and Louisville and likely Kentucky will no longer issue them). A separate issue is whether the officers committed a crime, as found in a law book, for which they can be charged and reasonably expected to be convicted by a jury.

        The law is discriminatory. It discriminates between acts that are illegal and acts that are not. Laws are carefully crafted to make note of all the factors distinguishing illegal acts from non-illegal acts, or to lay out the exceptions. As a prosecutor, you have to make sure that what you’re pursing, the actions in question, violate some codicil of the law. Otherwise the defense attorney will just step up and say “judge, what the prosecutor has charged isn’t illegal” and the judge will say “case dismissed.”

        You may call it the Nuremberg defense, “I was just following orders”, but the court had to determine that the orders were illegal, or that the person’s charged were the ones giving the orders. Not many low-level people were ever charged with anything at Nuremberg. The focus was on conducting mass genocide, etc.

        So, when you go into court, you either have to try an establish that the no-knock raid was illegal or that the officers acted wantonly or recklessly, or invoke some of the other legal words that are attached to lots of criminal laws. To do that, you’d have to dig in to whether they were perhaps illegally targeting the suspect (the investigation end that resulted in the warrant), improperly obtained the warrant, or initiated a chain of events in a way that no reasonable person would have done.

        To do any of that, you’re going to need a lot of detailed information about exactly what transpired, and that would require getting cooperation from the Louisville mayor’s office. He’s not cooperating, probably because he’s a Democrat, and thus the investigation is absolutely opaque to everyone in state government, including the state AG and the governor.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to George Turner says:

          So, when you go into court, you either have to try an establish that the no-knock raid was illegal or that the officers acted wantonly or recklessly, or invoke some of the other legal words that are attached to lots of criminal laws. To do that, you’d have to dig in to whether they were perhaps illegally targeting the suspect (the investigation end that resulted in the warrant), improperly obtained the warrant, or initiated a chain of events in a way that no reasonable person would have done.

          Well, lets see:
          1) They obtained a warrant to enter an address where the suspect was NOT located
          2) They executed the warrant after arresting the suspect elsewhere
          3) They fired indiscriminately into the apartment without identifying targets, which endangered their fellow officers.

          All of those seem to meet your test.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H says:

            At the very least, the officers either lied on the warrant application, or they failed to perform even the most basic due diligence (like, hey, let’s run our suspects name through the system, see if he pops up as already in custody for something else).

            Just because the judge signed the warrant doesn’t let you off the hook if your warrant was invalid from the get go because of incompetence or malfeasance.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Obviously, we need to get rid of the guy on the Stubbs marinade bottle.Report

  6. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    The only felony charge in the list is…

    KRS 524.040 Intimidating a participant in the legal process.

    (1) A person is guilty of intimidating a participant in the legal process when, by use of physical force or a threat directed to a person he believes to be a participant in the legal process, he or she:
    (a) Influences, or attempts to influence, the testimony, vote, decision, or opinion of that person;
    (b) Induces, or attempts to induce, that person to avoid legal process summoning him or her to testify;
    (c) Induces, or attempts to induce, that person to absent himself or herself from an official proceeding to which he has been legally summoned;
    (d) Induces, or attempts to induce, that person to withhold a record, document, or other object from an official proceeding;
    (e) Induces, or attempts to induce, that person to alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or
    (f) Hinders, delays, or prevents the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of information relating to the possible commission of an offense or a violation of conditions of probation, parole or release pending judicial
    proceedings.
    (2) For purposes of this section:
    (a) An official proceeding need not be pending or about to be instituted at the time of the offense; and
    (b) The testimony, record, document, or other object need not be admissible in evidence or free of a claim of privilege.
    (3) Intimidating a participant in the legal process is a Class D felony.
    (4) In order for a person to be convicted of a violation of this section, the act against a participant in the legal process or the immediate family of a participant in the legal process shall be related to the performance of a duty or role played by the participant in the legal process.

    Do we have within the actus reus anything that satisfies element (1), “physical force or a threat directed to” Cameron? Protestors sat on his lawn and there engaged in political speech.

    If so, do we have anything within the mens rea anything that can satisfy the prohibited objectives listed in sections (1)(a)-(1)(f)? The closest I can come to here is that the protestors were attempting to influence Cameron’s “opinion” about whether or not to prosecute Mattingly, Hankison, and Cosgrove. This feels a bit… stretchy, doesn’t it?

    Getting this charge past an honest, independent judge in a preliminary hearing based on these facts seems legally dubious. This assumes, of course, that a) the filing of the charge was intended to result in the prosecution and potential conviction of the defendants, rather than to simply intimidate them and make AG Cameron’s life less unpleasant without all those nasty protestors objecting to (what they see as) his covering up for murder; and b) that the judge who hears the matter will actually be honest and independent.

    Neither of these two propositions are givens by any means.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Obviously Kentucky needs to quickly pass a law similar to 18 USC § 115 – “Influencing, impeding, or retaliating against a Federal official by threatening or injuring a family member.” When you show up at someone’s house, it directly involved their entire family, who suddenly don’t feel safe even in their own driveway.

      Kentucky is working on a law to cover intimidation of sports officials, and the state is now erecting an iron fence around the governor’s mansion because masked and armed protesters showed up on his porch and looked as his kids through the window, while others present were burning him in effigy.

      Somehow certain swaths of the public don’t know that they shouldn’t do things like that.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to George Turner says:

        Somehow certain swaths of the public don’t know that they shouldn’t do things like that.

        It’s a side effect of the whole “Disney Villain” thing.

        They understand they’re on Team Good, the other side is Team Evil, and the Good guys aren’t bound by the rules because they’re Good.

        Everyone would have a problem with 85 Hell’s Angels or 85 Skin Heads showing up and glaring at someone’s family. Team Good however functions in this space where Plot protects children and everyone knows if there’s any violence it will be much deserved and the other side’s fault.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to George Turner says:

        yeah, because chanting we want justice is akin to the threat of armed people hanging you in effigy (which is intended as a threat). Apples and ice cubes dude.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Philip H says:

          There has probably never been a lynching where the mob was not chanting something akin to “We want justice!” When combined with outrage, that emotion is one of the most dangerous feelings humans have. It often spurs some people in the crowd to take it upon themselves to do the needful and just go ahead and deliver a big dose of “justice”.Report

      • “Threat” has a real meaning that doesn’t include showing up at someone’s house and chanting at them.Report

  7. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Someone needs to post video of those armed and threatening protesters at the Michigan legislature.Report

  8. Avatar Freeman says:

    It is not clear how long it takes to examine the case’s very plain facts in the “impartial and unbiased manner”

    Apparently it takes a year, even if the victim is White, not armed or resisting and there’s video from three angles.
    https://www.kxii.com/2020/07/14/video-shows-two-wilson-police-officers-tasing-man-who-later-died/Report

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