Every element of the penal system is involved in the failure to obtain justice for Breonna Taylor. The cops, according to the judge who signed the warrant that set in motion the events that led to Taylor’s murder, likely obtained these documents using fabricated information. Shoddy police work saw Louisville law enforcement raiding Taylor’s home despite the wanted suspect already in their custody. The three officers who brutally killed Taylor fired more than 30 bullets at each other in the darkness of his apartment, pumping at least six fatal shots into his body. They then ignored their own protocols, compromising the crime scene. And in the wake of Taylor’s murder, Commonwealth attorney Tom Wine focused on posthumously tarnishing Taylor’s reputation by trying to nail her as a “co-defendant” in a plea deal.
And then there was the seemingly strategic effort by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to avoid charges against one of the police officers involved in Taylor’s death. In presenting evidence to the grand jury that would decide whether or not to charge the officers, Cameron ignored several witnesses who countered the police’s claim that they had come forward before executing a “no-no” warrant. blow ”- and ignored that the only witness who confirmed this account had changed its original story. Further, after publicly stating that he provided the grand jurors with critical context for “every homicide crime and also presented all available information,” Cameron later revealed that “the only recommended charge was endangerment. free ”. Nonetheless, when he announced that charges would be laid against a single officer – not for Taylor’s murder, but for shooting at one of his neighbors’ apartment – Cameron suggested it was ‘An open and closed case, since “the grand jury agreed” with his office that the cops “were justified in returning deadly shots after being shot. Had it not been for a juror’s shame to have been used by the Attorney General “as a shield to deflect responsibility” for the lack of an indictment, we probably would never have heard the grand jury recordings which he reluctantly released on Friday afternoon. And even these have been altered to suppress the instructions given to the jury and their deliberations, keeping the procedures quite intentionally obscure.
“In our system, criminal justice is not the search for revenge – it is the search for truth, evidence and facts, and the use of that truth as we fairly enforce our laws,” he said. Cameron said at a press conference he held on the grand jury decision. “Do we really want the truth or do we want a truth that fits our story?” It appears Cameron, tacitly berating the public for demanding police accountability even as he strategically omitted information to shield officers from that same liability, wants a truth that fits his account and deals with Taylor’s death. was treated as a minor consequence of an inevitable series. events. Due to the focus on Taylor’s case, this sounds shocking. But the other thing that should shock is how completely ordinary this situation is.
From start to finish, the actions of Cameron (and Wine, at the district level) demonstrated the unchecked power of prosecutors and the ways in which unlimited power corrupts justice.
This almost unlimited control exercised by prosecutors decides almost all aspects of criminal cases, starting with the decision whether or not to prosecute a criminal prosecution and the charges that will be laid. Prosecutors essentially determine the proposed compromise – the means by which 90% of criminal cases are “resolved” – and reserve “all negotiating power” in the resulting agreements. Judges formally set the bond, but prosecutors make recommendations on the amount. Jury selection is in part determined at the discretion of the prosecutor. All of this is particularly worrying given the fact that they often work closely with the police on a day-to-day basis, forging professional ties that call into question the impartiality of prosecutions. The saying that a district attorney can convince a jury to charge a ham sandwich goes out the window when the police, ahem, are involved.
There is so much about the Taylor case that should have raised concerns among the prosecutors involved – were they really interested in justice? – and yet they gave up. According to grand jury tapes, after slipping their way into Taylor’s apparent and killing her in a hail of bullets, police did not even conduct the search they obtained the warrant for. One officer described being confronted with a “larger than normal” shadow of a person, which comes terribly close to the superhuman descriptions of blacks that police often use to justify fears that led them to kill. Cameron definitely told jurors that Walker shot an officer, despite a ballistic report questioning that assumption. Cameron’s omissions, including the presentation of possible offenses grand jurors might have imposed on cops, were clearly intentional because he believed cops could face real consequences. And he made a guarantee against this result.
“I can’t shape the facts in such a way that I meet a narrative that in many ways had already been aired before the facts came to light,” Cameron said of his role in the Taylor case.
And yet he seems to have made a pretty foolish effort to hide the fact that this is precisely what he did. Former lawyer for Mitch McConnell, champion of Donald Trump and the first elected black attorney general of Kentucky, Cameron’s handling of the Taylor case has essentially ensured that his star will continue to rise in Republican circles. And that rise is the result of a system that allows ambitious prosecutors to transparently serve anyone except the constituency that needs it most.
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