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Letters to the Editor: What we can still do for Breonna Taylor: End the drug war and bad policing

A makeshift memorial to Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.
People gather at Jefferson Square in Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 23, for word on whether the police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor would be charged.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: I am not an attorney, a police officer or anyone with real expertise on the criminal justice system. I am simply a random citizen and reader of the Los Angeles Times. The police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., in March and the aftermath compelled me to write because, like many, I am appalled and outraged.

Taylor’s senseless death, in my opinion, is such a colossal systemic failure that it somehow reminds me of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. The combination of misinformation, incompetence and poor oversight is beyond my feeble comprehension. It seems obvious that if people were to break down your door in the middle of the night, as the Louisville police did with Taylor and her boyfriend, you would treat them as mortal threats and defend yourself.

As much as I would love to see the police officers do a perp walk and have their mug shots taken, I understand why this will not happen. There is no jury that would find an officer guilty of murder or manslaughter when he can reasonably claim that he was acting in self-defense. If those officers are arrested and prosecuted, it would be the Rodney King trial all over again. The officers would be acquitted, and there would be rioting.

In fact, sending these officers to prison wouldn’t be enough. We as a society must prevent this from ever happening again. That means ending “no knock” raids. It means ending the war on drugs. Sending police to prison may feel like justice in this moment, but doing the hard work of reforming our society in tribute to Taylor and her family is simply what she, and all innocent bystanders in an endless drug war, deserve.

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Mark Rogers, South El Monte

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To the editor: The decision on whether to indict the officers was made by the Kentucky attorney general, not the grand jurors, who were spoon-fed less than all the important and contradictory facts. The prosecution controlled what evidence they did and did not get.

The officers’ fusillade that killed Taylor was done recklessly, consisting of shots fired at no one in particular and clearly not at the boyfriend, who fired in lawful self-defense at the intruders.

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The officers’ claim they announced their presence was refuted by several neighbors, according to a lawsuit by Taylor’s boyfriend, but the attorney general offered the testimony of only one person who claimed to have heard an announcement but earlier contradicted himself on that point.

The proper decision would have been to let the “announcement” defense be weighed by a jury and not the attorney general alone. That’s how it works for everyone except law enforcement shooters.

Thomas E. Beck, Rossmoor

The writer is an attorney specializing in police misconduct cases.

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To the editor: After two Louisville police officers were shot, Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was quick to tweet, “Violence against law enforcement is NEVER acceptable in a civil society.”

But law enforcement violence against civilians is also never acceptable in a civil society.

Police officers stormed into an apartment and killed an unarmed person. Apparently that isn’t a crime. The crime that the state says was committed was that the police shooting was reckless and a neighbor could have been shot.

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The decision not to charge the officers for the killing is foul and unjust.

Note I omitted any mention of race, class or gender in my retelling. It adds salt to the wound. A Black woman was killed, and her death was in vain. There is no justice.

Northern abolitionists were incorrect when they said the Civil War would cleanse the nation’s soul and end slavery. Children taken from their parents, systemic oppression, the killing of Black people, racist remarks against Asians for COVID-19, a crippling economic depression that affects mostly people of color, a bellicose president who has used law enforcement against the American people — these are the signs and symptoms of a nation on the brink of war and civil unrest.

Jose Rodriguez, Los Angeles


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