The Journal of Steffanie Rivers
The good news is the city of Louisville has agreed to pay $12 million to Breonna Taylor’s family. It’s the largest wrongful death payment ever against the Louisville Metro Police Department. Taylor’s family and loved ones deserve it! Nobody would argue that after learning about how and why she was killed.
She was killed in March 2020. Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel J. Cameron appointed himself special prosecutor back in June. Since then he claims to have been conducting a thorough investigation. But I beg to differ!
Ninety-nine percent of us know the story. For the one percent who don’t know: Louisville police lied to a judge to get approval for a no-knock warrant at Taylor’s residence. Taylor was not the target of the warrant. The person who was the target – her ex boyfriend – already had been arrested across town. But these bully, liar, killer cops showed up at her Taylor residence anyway and broke down the door. Police claimed they announced themselves as cops. Neighbors said they didn’t. Some of those neighbors and Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker who was at home with her, called police about the break-in. Walker shot at the people coming through the door. He’s licensed to carry a weapon and used it to legally defend himself and Taylor. Police unloaded a barrage of bullets into the apartment on the way in. One of the cops stationed outside blindly shot into the apartment. Some of his bullets were found in neighboring apartments where other innocent people could have died. Walker was arrested and charged with attempted murder of police – who didn’t announce themselves. Nobody offered Taylor medical assistance that might have saved her life. And that’s why Taylor’s family deserves the settlement money.
But there’s more to the story that makes Taylor’s murder even more egregious. Taylor’s boyfriend called her mom before he was arrested. When Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, showed up at the scene she was given the runaround about where her daughter was. Police sent her to a hospital telling her Breonna was there, knowing she wasn’t. After an hour, Palmer came back to the scene and that’s when police asked her about any domestic violence issues between her Breonna and her boyfriend. They tried to get her to make a statement that could later be used to blame Walker for Breonna’s death!
Of the officers involved in Taylor’s murder and subsequent cover-up none of them has been charged with a crime. Only one of them – the one who stood outside and blindly shot into her apartment – has been fired. The others are still getting paid for the legalized genocide of Black people. We demand the system to dish out fair punishment to bully, liar, killer cops the same as it does for everyone else.
That’s where Attorney General Cameron should have stepped in. The aforementioned details are enough evidence for charges already to have been filed. Any other attorney general with a backbone would have done so already. Dan Cameron has no backbone. He’s afraid to bring charges against police, because they helped get him elected. He thanked the Fraternal Order of Police in his acceptance speech when he was elected to the AG position last year. The FOP has Cameron in their back pocket. They own him!
For three months Cameron claimed he has been conducting a thorough investigation of the Taylor’s case. It was a stall tactic. He had hoped he could take control of the investigation and never file charges against the police involved. But then George Floyd’s modern-day lynching video sparked world-wide protests and brought attention to Taylor’s case.
Now Cameron knows the case won’t just go away because all eyes are on Louisville! Even though Taylor’s family deserves the $12 million settlement, the civil case could be bad news for the criminal case.
Typically the criminal case is decided first. The civil case is decided later. Since the money already has been awarded the grand jury might not feel obligated to indict Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Det. Myles Cosgrove or now fired officer Brett Hankinson. Criminal justice is different than civil justice. We want both
Even though they are not supposed to act on emotion when it comes to the law, the grand jury might feel as if criminal indictments against police and civil justice is too much justice for one case! Also, the attorney general can sway the grand jury’s decision to based on how and what evidence he presents. It doesn’t look good for criminal prosecution. I know it and people in Louisville know it. That’s why federal buildings in the city have been boarded up and are closed for business this week in anticipation of what’s to come.
Daniel Cameron is not fit for the fight we as Black people in America are engaged in against bully, liar, killer cops! He claimed to be for law and order, but when it comes to holding crooked cops accountable, he doesn’t have the guts for it. He’s not fit to be attorney general.
Police Union Bullies Eighth Graders Over Class Assignment
The Fraternal Order of Police is using it’s bully tactics against a bunch of eighth graders in Wylie, Texas because of a class assignment that portrayed some cops as present-day white supremacists. Now Governor Greg Abbott has called for the teacher who assigned the project to be fired!
It happened earlier in August. It was a social studies on-line assignment for eighth graders at Cooper Junior High School. They were told to discuss a political cartoon that shows the evolution of slave traders, to slave owners, to hooded Ku Klux Klan members, to Civil Rights era police, to present-day cops who kneel on the necks of Black men until they die!
The cartoon in question originally was published on an Arizona media platform. Apparently some parents of the 8th grade students in the class thought the social studies assignment was wrong and reported it to the Fraternal Order Of Police.
Joe Gamaldi is national vice-president of FOP. In a letter addressed to the Wylie Independent School District Superintendent, Gamaldi called the comparison of cops to slave holders, white supremacists and KKK members ‘ disturbing.’ And he said the worst part is there were no responsible adults around with better judgment than to assign this project to begin with.
The letter goes on to say police are a diverse group of individuals working to have conversations with communities and children. And he offered to sit down with teachers and students to be a part of positive resolution to this horrible situation.
Let’s dissect this issue of the cartoon assignment and responses to it. First the assignment was for a social studies class for 13-year-olds – not 6 -year-olds! They are closer to adulthood than to adolescence. Today’s social climate is one of civil discourse that includes racial injustice at the hands of law enforcement officers. Teens should not be expected to ignore social realities that effect their families, friends and the world around them. After all, we hope they will be part of the solution. To do so parents should stop trying to hide life’s truths from their children instead of helping their children through it. If parents don’t like social realities be examples to their children and anyone else watching of what it takes to improve it. Be the change you hope to see.
To Joe Gamaldi and the Fraternal Order of Police: Whether or not the cartoon turned into a social studies assignment for 8th graders is beside the point. The point is the FOP and local unions by many accounts are known more for defending acts of unjustified deadly force by police against unarmed Black people than for anything else. So don’t take out your frustration about your negative image on a bunch of 13-year-olds and school administrators. Your image problem is not their fault. It’s your fault. Your disdain for the citizens of Houston where you’ve served as police union president before your recent election to national V.P. is indicative of why your membership is made up of more bully, liar, killer cops than the diverse group of individuals you speak of like the words on a marketing brochure. Your letter sounds good, but it’s builly clubs and bullets that break our bones and kill us! It’s no wonder you got elected to a FOP national office.
If the FOP wants to talk about solutions with anyone talk to your membership nationwide to condemn continuous violence against unarmed Black and Brown people. Stop defending them. Don’t try to push skewed narratives on students and teachers who know systemic racism and bad behavior when they see it! It is what it is.
Lastly, there is no better lesson than our current situation for 8th graders to focus on in social studies class. Whether or not you agree with the cartoon, no book or online lesson seems more appropriate under the circumstances. The governor’s call for termination of the teacher who assigned the project shows a lack of forethought and a rush to judgment under pressure from an organization known for bullying politicians, unarmed citizens on the streets of America and now 8th graders just trying to make sense of the world around them. Just because some adults want to ignore what’s really going on doesn’t mean our children should too.
Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at info@SteffanieRivers.com with comments, questions or speaking inquiries. Friend her on Facebook/SteffanieRivers. Follow her on Twitter @tcbstef and on Instagram@tcbstef