Changes in law enforcement procedures can save lives
The more we learn about Breonna Taylor’s death, the clearer it becomes that she did not have to die. Law enforcement officials everywhere should be examining what happened to ensure similar tragedies do not occur in their jurisdictions.
Little by little, information about what happened in the Taylor case is trickling out. Some of what we are learning contradicts earlier reports.
It is known now that after midnight on March 13, police in Louisville, Kentucky, went to Taylor’s apartment to serve a search warrant. They were looking for evience of illegal drug activity.
Inside were Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. They were in her bedroom watching television, not near the apartment’s entrance door.
Police say they knocked on the door three times, announced they were law enforcement officers, then used a battering ram to force their way into the apartment.
Walker has said he heard the disturbance but did not know it was caused by police officers. He had a gun. He and Taylor went down a hall, saw people in the apartment — and Walker fired one shot. He wounded an officer, who returned fire. So did the other policemen.
Taylor was hit several times and died at the scene.
Other details may come out later, but the details above are clear.
Without in any way passing judgment on what happened, Walker’s account seems believable. It would have been foolish for him to open fire on people he knew to be police officers. He fired one shot – then, realizing what was going on, stopped.
It appears neither Walker nor Taylor heard the officers announce their presence.
Louisville officials already have announced they are reviewing — and changing — procedures for such situations.
That comes too late for Breonna Taylor.
Thorough, objecctive reviews and change in procedure at other law enforcement agencies could save lives, however.