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Breonna Taylor case: Louisville police nearly blank incident report (usatoday.com)
430 points by evo_9 on June 11, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 293 comments



USA Today has the best coverage of this I’ve seen. The NYT coverage of this is awful: https://www.nytimes.com/article/breonna-taylor-police.html

A key fact is that the police shot Taylor after her boyfriend shot at the police, thinking they were intruders. While he was fully entitled to do that, the NYT doesn’t believe in gun rights so that’s a messy fact. To make the victim seem more sympathetic, the narrative under the heading “What Happened in Louisville?” doesn’t mention Taylor‘s boyfriend shooting first. Instead, you need to go down several paragraphs to learn that fact. Which leaves the whole article deeply confused: at first you think police just started shooting for no reason, and then later you learn they shot because they were fired upon. Which of course leaves the reader with little understanding of what police actually did wrong. Were they not supposed to shoot back when Taylor’s boyfriend shot at them? Is that the problem?

Obviously nobody expects the police not to shoot back when fired upon. What the police did wrong, instead, is failing to respect black peoples’ second and fourth amendment rights. This happened in Kentucky, where if you barge into someone’s house in the middle of the night you can expect to get shot. Police barging into people’s homes in the middle of the night unannounced is fundamentally incompatible with what the Constitution and Kentucky law gives homeowners the right to do: shoot at intruders in their home. And as such the practice of serving these no-knock warrants is an infringement of that right. It leads to tragic consequences under predictable circumstances where homeowners are just exercising their rights. And of course, it’s doubtful that officers display the same callousness to the possibility of armed homeowners when it comes to policing white neighborhoods. It’s another one in a long pattern of cases where black people are murdered for daring to exercise their second amendment rights.


> Obviously nobody expects the police not to shoot back when fired upon

Well, I do. We had a case in Germany a few years back where the police served some kind of no-knock warrant, the guy (a Hells Angel) thought they were from a rival gang, shouted at them and then shot at them. A Policeman died, the guy dropped his gun immediately after police identified themselves. The Case made the news later because the guy got acquitted of all charges regarding the killing [1] but that's only secondarily relevant here.

For me the main take-away from this should be that there's a difference between shooting back at night against a home invasion and shooting at the police. Just because the police see a situation where someone shoots back in a home invasion-scenario does in no way mean they can expect an intention to shoot at cops. Shooting back at invaders is legal, and the police should not react until they have ruled that out.

[1] I suspect that's a german source, sorry. http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/0,1518,795678,00.html#


That's great that German police are trained to react that way. But American police are not. American police are trained to prioritize their own safety and survival above the safety and survival of suspects or even innocent bystanders. There's no consideration of intention or what information people are acting on - if there's a potentially lethal threat to the policeman, it must be dominated and suppressed.

So yes, with a practical understanding of how American police train and operate, this outcome is completely expected.


> "American police are trained to prioritize their own safety and survival above the safety and survival of suspects or even innocent bystanders."

But they're trained very badly at that. They're trained to escalate, which endangers everybody, including themselves.


In the above case, the killed officer was already dead. Returning fire would have killed the suspect and maybe more officers. Not to safe if you ask me. Identifying themselves as police was the prudent thing, having done so upfront would most likely have saved an officers live.


Isn't this one of the main things that people are protesting about. Police shouldn't be trained like this. They could also carry things like tasers which allow them to protect themselves without killing anyone.


Correction: while minimizing the risk of death. Tasers can still kill people.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Dzieka%C5%84ski_Taser...


They certainly can. But they're a lot less likely to than a gun. I think their use would be justified in the case that a policeman was being shot at.


Being trained to break the law does not (legally) justify breaking the law.

I'm not sure if shooting someone in "self defense" who is legally shooting at you is illegal under US law, it's an interesting thought though.


There's precedent to say its legal to return fire.


As an intruder?


I can't really remember the case, but there was a standoff where a (white) person returned fire against law enforcement after they shot his dog. In the end I think one law enforcement officer was killed on one side, and that guys wife, child and dog was on the other side.

There was no punishment for the killing of the LEO.


The incident you’re referring to is Ruby Ridge. There has been much more disconduct by the feds than just shooting guy’s dog, and his acquittal did not hinge on the fact that they shot his dog first.


No, I didn't mean to imply it.


American police aren't trained. It's literally idiots on steroids watching 3 YouTube videos for "training" combined with some shitty version of some martial arts.

They are not capable of solving anything without authority, force and violence. Just stacked with military equipment and tools to escalate anything until a "suspect" breaks - mentally or physically.


>A Policeman died, the guy dropped his gun immediately after police identified themselves.

Can you actually believe them though? What if the intruder does what the shooter in Canada did and impersonates the police?


This is my problem with police in general. They supposedly have all sorts of special privileges yet it's so easy to impersonate them. The only way to reliably identify a cop is by calling 911. Especially if you're driving. So I don't understand how you're ever supposed to believe someone's a police officer just because a home invader says so.


I remember reading a case where a woman was pulled over by a cop, in a pitch black area at night. She drove another mile or so before stopping when she found some light. She was arrested for "not stopping" or something along those lines. The case was dismissed, but she mentioned it took a toll on her.

We can have all the guns and take all the precautions but these kind of incidents will continue to happen. The only way is to hire better people to the police force and more importantly train them better. Above all, have proper social support.


> the only way is to hire better people to the police force and more importantly train them better. Above all, have proper social support.

or, you know, not give every idiot cop a gun.


It was the equivalent of a SWAT Team. If you have >10 people shouting police it's very unlikely that's fake.


How often does that freaking happen... Edge case?


I once saw German police officers at a police shooting range (it's not public but I knew a participant). Shooting without identifying themselves as police and demanding to drop the weapon led to them failing the test immediately, independent of the behavior of the other party.


[flagged]


I think everyone with half a brain knows that the US is very close to a failed state and ready for renewal/reform.

Lack of police training, idiotic judicial system and last but not least a completely broken democracy... the issues run very deep and cases like Breanna Taylor show that.

The police DID commit a home invasion, they were the criminals and murderers. At no point they had the right to shoot back, as Taylors boyfriend had to assume an armed home invasion. And that assumption was true. He acted in justified self-defense and the cops murdered his girlfriend for it.


Overzealous police is hardly a US-specific problem; there are plenty of cases in e.g. UK and France to discuss. But it seems to be much bigger, and handled very badly.


Not only was this a no-knock warrant in a country full of guns, but it was also executed by plainclothes police. Figure out how that’s supposed to work.


Imagine what may be done as long as grunts are just following orders.


But why? Why not wait for a fully equipped team with shields? Sorrounding the house until then prevents anyone from getting out. Unless there's an active shooting, there's no reason not to wait. And with proper protection, police can afford to first identify themselves as shots are extremely unlikely to be lethal.

I always thought it was Hollywood's imagination showing plain clothes police officers performing raids. It's shocking to see that this appears to be common police practice.


> Obviously nobody expects the police not to shoot back when fired upon.

I do.

They should temporarily cover to safety, understand the situation, announce themselves and attempt to de-escalate.

Only if gunfire persist after that, it's reasonable to use deadly force. That's the LAST thing they should do (because in fact, mistakes at that point will be final, with mortal consequences)


> attempt to de-escalate.

"I know that I just kicked down your door in the dead of night guns draw to gain the element of surprise because I anticipated or wanted an altercation but now that I know you have a gun and are actively trying to kill me, I'd like to ask you to calm down."


Does identifying work though? What's stopping an intruder from doing that? I just don't see how no-knock warrants like this are supposed to work.


I just don't see how no-knock warrants like this are supposed to work.

This IS how they work. The police kick down your door, sometimes lob in a few stun grenades, then charge in like they're Rambo. Violence is a feature, not a bug, of this system.

The reason no-knocks are used in drug cases is, ostensibly, to prevent destruction of evidence. But, police have come to rely on them (along with armored SWAT teams) for damn near ALL warrants, not just know violent drug offenders.

It's high time we banned no-knocks. It's high time we introduced a higher bar to arrest-via-home-invasion. It's high time we held judges accountable for signing warrants. And, probably biggest of all, high time to end the war on drugs as it currently exists.


Clinton's ATF actually sought a no-knock warrant for the original Waco raid, but the judge denied it because the evidence sought (illegal machine guns) can't be quickly destroyed.

They used no knock tactics anyway, including climbing into upstairs windows with assault weapons.


I imagine if they retreat to cover that would allow for a large response by uniformed police in marked vehicles, at which point it would be more clear who they are.


I agree in principle, but this might not always be realistic. bullets from a rifle can easily penetrate an unarmored vehicle or residential structure and kill people on the other side. frankly, I think the police should be expected to take a bit more personal risk to avoid killing civilians (even if they are in the wrong), but you have to consider that other people could be in danger. if it's a populated area, it might not be okay to just let the person keep shooting until the police figure out what's going on. of course, every shot the police fire also endangers bystanders, so they need to take that into consideration too.


>"mistakes at that point will be final, with mortal consequences"

Absolutely true, but you seem to expect them to care about that fact. Recent evidence shows that their selection & training eliminates caring about such issues.

Obviously, this drastically needs to be changed.


What you say is obvious is not obvious at all. I expect police not to shoot back if the situation is such that the person that is shooting back could reasonably act in self defense (as was here the case).

Then I expect police to take the strategy of simply retreating and getting to safety.

Obviously that’s associated with a higher risk for the police but to my mind that is a risk police have to accept if they want to be able to execute search warrants like that. It comes with the territory.

The other alternative is to not execute search warrants in that way.


> The other alternative is to not execute search warrants in that way.

When you boil it all down, this is the answer. The main reasoning behind no knock warrants is to prevent evidence destruction. The harm of a drug dealer flushing some drugs down the toilet versus potentially killing innocent people isn't even in the same ball park. And really, how many flushes can some get in the 15-30 seconds that it takes for cops to rush into the house?

Sometimes the argument is that no knocks are for armed and violent suspects but even then it's not clear a no-knock raid makes it any safer for anybody. Police could just as easily wait until someone leaves the house in the morning and execute the arrest with far less risk.

Seems like no-knock raids should be outright banned for local law enforcement at the least.


> Obviously that’s associated with a higher risk for the police but to my mind that is a risk police have to accept if they want to be able to execute search warrants like that. It comes with the territory.

I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about this as I'm a former service member who is generally kind of paranoid of people breaking into my safe spaces. In the Marine Corps, there's pretty much two tactical options we are trained to choose from when taking fire: either immediately assault the enemy with fire and maneuver, or break contact and find cover.

An immediate assault should only be used if you know the relative size of the enemy, you're rules of engagement support an assault, and there's no hard cover available. Immediately returning fire increases the likelihood of getting your people killed, but retains the initiative, which is great if the enemy force is likely to advance on your position. There is no benefit of doing this if the enemy is just going to sit behind cover taking pot shots; better to draw them out and gain the cover advantage.

All of that is to say that the police had NONE of those qualifications. There is literally no reason not to pull back. By returning fire, they put themselves in MORE danger, and for no reason. That is the reaction that untrained animals take, not a disciplined unit.


This exactly. You cannot first say people have a right to own guns, a right to defend themselves with them, and a right to shoot intruders in their homes, and then give police a no-knock warrant to enter people's homes unannounced. You're asking police officers to get shot. It's an incredibly stupid and dangerous combination.


> You're asking police officers to get shot.

Technically, police officers are the ones applying for the no-knock warrants which get other police officers shot. And police officers are the ones who pushed for more use of no-knock (something like 10x increase from 30 years ago) because they think it improves their safety (more likely it just allows them to prosecute warrants faster than waiting for the door and risking the suspect destroying evidence before opening the door).


> Were they not supposed to shoot back when Taylor’s boyfriend shot at them?

How about: they should be held responsible for the preventable death of this woman in a situation they directly and deliberately created? Is that not the problem?

I don't think anyone is demanding a first degree murder conviction here. They didn't walk in with the intent to kill her. But they sure as shit did kill her, and it's all their fault that it happened. Sounds like open and shut manslaughter to me.


People never talk about the judge in these cases. This only happened because a judge decided to sign a no-knock warrant. So, ultimately, doesn’t the judge bear a large portion of the responsibility for creating the situation, for the death that resulted? Shouldn’t the judge be the adult in the room, saying “no” to the police, saying that the circumstances are not extraordinary enough to justify the issuance of a no-knock, with the clear risk to life that this entails, and telling them to find another way?


It's the whole "Somebody Else's Problem" field that bureaucracy generates.

Same thing happens in pretty much any large gathering of people: "I only signed off on blah, nobody told me foo and bar would happen". "We only did foo because someone signed off on blah, we had approval it's not our fault". And round and round we go pointing fingers at each other rather than improving the world for anyone.


I think you’re right. But I also think that things might get a little better if we shone a light on the judges who are allowing these things to happen. They are supposed to judge, not be rubber stamps for whatever the police want. For example, the media will tell us the names of the cops who murder people when executing a warrant, as they should; but I don’t remember a single article where the judge who signed the warrant was named, or where the reporter tried to interview the judge, to ask what evidence justified, say, a no-knock warrant. Not that a judge would grant such an interview, but at least the judge can be named, and the question raised.


I agree with you, all parts of the machine need some daylight.

I wonder how much this is due to sheer volume of warrants and policing actions?


The judge issued a warrant that was requested by the police. Likely by the officers involved (though I don't know if that's been reported). I mean yes: you're right, our judiciary should be serving as a better backstop on public safety concerns than they are. And that's a problem.

But the court signed off on the warrant that law enforcement wanted. As I see it it's still the police holding the bag here.


Of course; that’s the way it works. But I’m proposing the radical idea that there is a reason for the 4th amendment, and the judges might consider reviewing the evidence and thinking about—nay, judging, even—whether the situation warrants granting what should be an extraordinary request by the police. And that we the people, and the press, especially, should consider it proper to hold them to account, especially when there is a tragic consequence. Nobody ever asks the judge, “why did you sign this warrant? Why was this extreme measure necessary?”


You seem to be changing the subject. Upthread, you argued that the judge bore a "large portion" of the blame for this shooting. Here you're just saying that judges need to be better.

I agree. But I still don't see how, if I ask you to let me commit a crime, and you say yes, that makes you more culpable than me. The word for that is "accessory", and it's by definition a lesser crime.


I think you’re confusing the expression “large portion” with something like “most”.


I believe it's classical case where there is enough evidence for a wrongful death civil lawsuit (which will typically end with a 5-10 million dollars settlement), but there is not enough evidence to convict the officers (or the boyfriend) of a crime in a criminal case.


Charges were dropped against the boyfriend a week ago anyway[0].

[0] https://www.boston25news.com/news/trending/charges-dropped-a...


Qualified immunity would probably make that civil lawsuit much more difficult.


Not sure - it seems that every well-known police murder case ended with a multi-million-dollar settlement, even though officers were often acquitted. Wikipedia has details on these.


Qualified immunity only stops people from suing the individual police officers, and they don't even have enough money to pay out multi-million dollar settlements anyway. The big payouts come from suing the police department itself as an instituation and as I understand it they aren't protected by qualified immunity.


Unfortunely the boyfriend didn't kill a police officer. I feel reform of this "no knock/plain clothes/home invasion" policy would be more likely to occur with that outcome.


If a police officer was killed, the more likely outcome would be even harsher and deadlier use of force during future "no knock/plain clothes/home invasions". As we have seen clearly during the past few weeks, police forces will trade away citizen lives for officer safety.


How about: they should be held responsible for the preventable death of this woman in a situation they directly and deliberately created?

Legally speaking, they are generally not responsible for creating the situation that led to their violation of Taylor's rights. The court has broad latitude to ignore events prior to any violation of rights, instead relying on whether the police felt at risk in that specific moment.


Is the bad guy a couple of cops who we hold to the impossible standard of not returning fire? Or are no-knock warrants the bad guy which routinely cause deaths for the sole purpose of keeping some drugs from being flushed down the toilet?

Because one of these is very easy to fix and would 100% mean Taylor would still be alive. The other would be super difficult to fix and who knows if it would have saved her life.


Is "not returning fire" really an impossible standard to you?

How about: If you do something that could be met with justified self defense and you encounter that self defense your first instinct as police should be to retreat and clarify the situation?

Why is it reasonable to have the first instinct to shoot back?


Do you think that a blanket policy that all officers retreat when fired upon without returning fire wouldn't be exploitable by criminals?


I conditioned the retreating on “if you do something that could be met with justified self defense” (as was here the case). So this was not a blanket policy.

In general I do think there are many situations where police should not automatically return fire when fired upon. Not all situations – but many situations.

Also, I’m not obsessed with making all criminal acts impossible or making sure that there are never any loopholes or ways for criminals to get away with something.

First of all, that’s an impossible standard to meet even if you put no limits at all on police action. Crime happens regardless and criminals get away with it. (Which is not intended to be defeatist hyper-cynicism. My intention here is to say that perfection in terms of solving crimes is an impossible standard even if you don’t give a fuck about human rights and dignity. You have to measure differently.)

Second, policing that respects human dignity and reduces overall harm (as opposed to being fixated on this one possibility of some criminal getting away with it) will sometimes lead to criminals getting away with it and that’s a trade-off I’m more than willing to accept.

I would be much more keen on talking about trade-offs, otherwise you always run into the trap of running into a situation where a policy could possibly in some way be abused by criminals and as soon as that happens this policy is automatically no good anymore. That seems like dangerous dead-end thinking to me. You always run into stop signs.

Loopholes are a valid argument against a policy, however they are not the final argument against a policy. Put them on the con-side and keep on thinking about it in terms of trade-offs.


Do you think trading innocent people's lives to prevent criminal exploits is an acceptable strategy?

I mean, there weren't any criminals here at all, but let's pretend they were dealing out of the apartment, as the reporting has suggested was the impetus. How many escaped drug dealers are worth one Breonna Taylor?


At some ratio yes. Otherwise we shouldn't enforce any laws, and I don't think a state without any laws enforced is a viable one.

How many escaped drug dealers are worth one Breonna Taylor, depends completely on how violet the drug dealer is. Non-violent drug dealers, there isn't a number. But as the drug dealer gets more violent it requires fewer.


> depends completely on how violet the drug dealer is

Exactly. But you're still evading by hiding behind a TV Crime Drama trope. How many dealers are "violent"? Have you researched that? While there is violence in the drug trade, as there pretty much has to be in any black market, there is almost none at the level of individual sales. Needless to say it's not a good business model to go around killing people in front of your customers.

I mean, the evidence in question (that got this woman killed!) is that a known dealer apparently walked out of the apartment. With a FedEx box. Do we really want to be shooting people for carrying boxes?

The idea of street dealers being dangerous is largely a fiction invented by society. And we're killing innocent people to perpetuate it.


Back of the envelope calculation

I would imagine dealers are 0.1-1% of the population (say .3%) and the FBI says roughly 13% of homicides are gang related which is probably a rough proxy for the number of drug dealer related homicides.

This would put dealers as having a homicide rate approximately 40x the base rate. This seems right to me.


I wonder if 'gang related' is a conflation with 'poor'.

To be fair, have to measure folks in the same socioeconomic class and geography but not in gangs and compare?


I think homicide base rate for poverty is closer to 2x.


It was true 20 years ago, when we formed our cultural impressions perhaps. Then the cocaine market was flooded with tons of cheap stuff (by the CIA). After that, the money to be made was so low that nobody was killing anybody over $100.

There's books written about this (Outliers?)


A policy that police do so when it is reasonably foreseeable that they could be reasonably mistaken for violent trespassers would have very limited opportunity for deliberate exploitation by criminals, and would also provide a strong incentive for even bad police to avoid the occurrence of such situations on the first place, whereas the status quo encourages violence-minded cops to engineer such situations when they can also engineer a lopsided force advantage over anyone likely to be present.


I think its much simpler to just eliminate the situations where the police could be reasonably mistaken for violent trespassers, i.e. no knock warrants, instead of having a seperate set of rules of engagement for no knock warrants.


There can be multiple people at fault for a situation.

The answer is: both should be addressed.

The officers should be thoroughly investigated for this incident by an independent third party. If the facts support it they should be charged with the most advanced crime that the facts support (e.g. manslaughter).

Simultaneously, we should immediately discontinue and abandon no-knock warrants. If they're not abandoned entirely we should radically alter the burden of proof required to obtain one from probable cause to clear and convincing evidence.


I totally agree this incident should be investigated by a third party. And if they committed a crime they should be charged.

But my understanding is that leading up to the death of Taylor no laws were broken.


Taking negligent actions that lead to the death of another person is often a crime of manslaugter. Manslaughter usually doesn't require any other crime to be committed. Therefore, "no laws were broken" ... "leading up to the death of Tayor" isn't relevant to at least some of the relevant charges.

In Kentucky, KRS 507.040 defines "Manslaughter in the second degree" (https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/statutes/statute.aspx?id...).

This is defined as:

> A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when he wantonly causes the death of another person...

A "wanton" state of mind in KY is defined in KRS 501.020 (https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/statutes/statute.aspx?id...

> A person acts wantonly with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. A person who creates such a risk but is unaware thereof solely by reason of voluntary intoxication also acts wantonly with respect thereto.

Now, this quickly gets fact specific, but if the following acts are true:

- LMPD breached the house suddenly, and loudly

- LMPD breached the house late at night

- LMPD officers were wearing plain-clothes

- LMPD officers did not announce themselves (disputed)

I personally would find that the officers acted wantonly in a manner that would predictably created a serious risk of injury or death to themselves or bystanders. As such, given the statute and those 4 facts I would be willing to vote to convince on second-degree manslaughter in this case.

I'll note, again, that this is fact specific. The officers specifically claim to have loudly announced themselves. Walker and neighbors dispute that fact.


You're basically arguing that serving a no-knock warrant is inherently a wanton act.

I think it's unreasonable to argue that police disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk when a Judge literally signed a piece of paper that said it was a justified risk.

And I don't think doing your job in a way that judges sign off 40,000 times a year is a "gross deviation from the standard of conduct".


I'm arguing that serving a no knock warrant, in the middle of the night, in plain clothes, without announcing that you are police, is an inherently wanton act.

If all no knock warrants are conducted that way, then I would indeed say that they are all wanton acts.

I don't care if they were following orders, or had permission from the state. Crime is still crime, and getting your boss to tell you to commit a crime is still a crime. Even if your boss wears blue.

Note also you've shifted the law slightly by saying executing the no-knock warrant how it's typicality done cannot be a gross deviation of standard conduct. Yet that's not what the law says.

The law does not say: "...disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a police officer conducting a no-knock warrant would observe".

It says "...disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation".

So let me ask you this: if you went down to Kentucky, and loudly broke into a house in the middle of the night" do you think it's likely that someone (yourself or the people in the house) could come to harm from this?

I think no-knock warrants are typically conducted by uniformed officers who loudly declare that they are the police, That's a very different fact pattern than what I said would merit manslaughter.


The whole point of a no knock warrant, being plain clothes, not announcing (disputed), and serving in the middle of the night is to not let the suspected perpetrator know the cops are serving him a warrant.

Each of these decisions trades some risk of death and injury for an increased likelihood that the police officers will find drugs.

I don't think this is a good trade-off, I don't think any amount of drugs you can flush down a toilet in a minute is worth the loss of life or violation of individual rights that a no knock warrant entails.

> So let me ask you this: if you went down to Kentucky, and loudly broke into a house in the middle of the night" do you think it's likely that someone (yourself or the people in the house) could come to harm from this?

Likely, no, possible yes.


"substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists"

I'd argue that it's not likely also, but I would say it is substantial, which is sufficient under the law.

I understand the reasoning provided. I think it wantonly risks death for unjustifiable reasons. They can provide their justifications, but to me (were I sitting on a jury) I would think an objective reasonable person would not agree with them.

It sounds like we're mostly in agreement on their actions creating a circumstance where the death could occur. I think at this point maybe the only difference between us is whether that risk is "justifiable" as described in the statute.

I think it is not and (again, given the specific facts I proposed which would have to be proven at trial) I would find them guilty of manslaughter.


Even though I personally think no knock warrants are unjustified and should be banned. I don't think it's reasonable to say it's a wanton disregard for life when so many judges and police departments disagree.

But I guess time will tell if they get charged and convicted.


> I don't think it's reasonable to say it's a wanton disregard for life when so many judges and police departments disagree.

You and I probably have disagreements about how the current system values a human life relative to their other goals. I have no problem viewing a police department (or many police departments) systematically acting in a wanton manner. That doesn't excuse the individuals that carry out the actions.

For the same reason "I was just following orders" is not a defense. Breaking the law is breaking the law—even if your bosses order it and other people are doing it.

Again, I also do not believe that most PDs carry out no-knock warrants with these facts. I suspect most PDs during a no-knock warrant will still use uniformed police officers and announce themselves as police.


> For the same reason "I was just following orders" is not a defense. Breaking the law is breaking the law—even if your bosses order it and other people are doing it.

I don't think "I was just following orders" is a defense against breaking the law. But I think arguing that something is a common practice throughout the U.S. is a defense against the act showing a willful or depraved indifference to human life.

Basically I don't believe in the death penalty. But I also don't think the doctor who administers the lethal injection for the state should be convicted of manslaughter if they happen to kill an innocent person. (I also think the death penalty kills more innocent people per execution, than execution of warrants).

> I suspect most PDs during a no-knock warrant will still use uniformed police officers

Definitely agree here. But plainclothes warrant execution has been become increasingly common over the last decades. The no-knocks, are getting more no-knockier.


> Is the bad guy a couple of cops who we hold to the impossible standard of not returning fire?

- People in plain clothes

- Knock down a door to an apartment

- In a country where people legally own guns

- In a country where "If they (robbers/burglars) come for me, they will get shot" is a thing

how is it an impossible standard to expect that someone will shoot at them for essentially being burglars?


It's an impossible standard to expect police officers to not defend themselves.

There is nothing impossible about banning no-knock warrants so this situation can't happen.


> Is the bad guy a couple of cops who we hold to the impossible standard of not returning fire?

How is that an impossible standard? Holding your fire and retreating is certainly an option. It carries more risk, but if you're going to dress in plain clothes and serve a no-knock warrant, that's a risk you must accept up-front.

The existence of no-knock warrants is also to blame, of course; banning them entirely would likely have prevented this.


If they unlawfully put themselves in a situation where they felt compelled to return fire then they should be held accountable for whatever damage their bullets do just like any other person would be.

If my convenience store stickup goes sideways and the clerk gets shot I'm responsible. Cops should be held to the same standards as normal people.

We should also get rid of no-knocks but that's just whacking a particular mole. The root cause of the problems America has been having with police is that normal people do not get the same treatment under the law that police do.


Did the cops unlawfully put themselves in that situation?


Having been a military servicemember, not returning fire is the bare minimum to expect. If they had no training, no mandate, no authority, and were not kicking someone's door down in the middle of the night, then returning fire would be a risky but understandable choice. But if you have any understanding of tactical urban combat, you know that taking cover here and assessing the situation is the only rational choice. Blindly returning fire in an area filled with civilians (an apartment for god's sake) is a criminal decision, likely to get your officers and random innocent persons killed.


I don't know much about the military's rules of engagement. But if you are breaking into a residence with a suspected terrorist or enemy combatant and are fired upon, you don't return fire?


Considering they didn't even hit the guy who was shooting at them, I'd say backing out of the apartment would have been a much better strategy.


> Is the bad guy a couple of cops who we hold to the impossible standard of not returning fire?

Yes? I mean, no, they're not the only bad guy. There are other problems to address too and other ways to solve the abstract problem. But abstract solutions aren't the same thing as "justice", and these officers made the decision to engage in violence that killed an innocent woman. That's culpability, period.

Look: the whole reason we put guns into the hands of special people is that we trust them to keep us safe. And that trust should come with responsibility when they don't. The officer's judgement needs to be applied in circumstances like this, they aren't robots. If they felt, like you do, that the warrant was impossibly unsafe to serve, they should not have served the warrant. That's what the trust we place in them is supposed to be for.

And they didn't. Clearly they were wrong about the safety, but they thought it was safe, because they did it. And Breonna died. And that lapse in judgement needs to be addressed with justice.


> Is the bad guy a couple of cops who we hold to the impossible standard of not returning fire?

That's very hard to answer because the cops have censored or lied about most of the report, as well as making claims about knocking and introducing themselves -- holding a no-knock warrant -- which is apparently disputed by witnesses.

But then again I don't think it's very helpful to try to identify the one and only Bad Guy™.


I think it's very helpful to focus on easily fixable, impactful measures over hard to fix measures with uncertain efficacy.


Agreed. And to add to that, I think it's also helpful to keep in mind that we possess the ability to focus on more than one thing at a time.


> the impossible standard of not returning fire

And yet they managed to not return fire all day, until they decided to literally invade an apartment.


This no knock raid was requested in a blanket way that makes it illegal according to the supreme court.


> nobody expects the police not to shoot back when fired upon

This is often part of the "rules of engagement" that military personnel are expected to follow; not only because they're expected not to shoot civilians, but also peacekeeping situations where firing on the wrong forces could cause WW3, as well as the very basic check that the target isn't wearing the same uniform as you and shooting in your direction by mistake.

It's not clear whether the police were firing at the gun-holder here and missed, or whether they were firing blindly through a door, wall, or into a dark area; that is also criminally irresponsible.


Blindly, it seems. The neighboring apartment had several bullets enter, as well.

So, zero regard for the safety of anyone.


And zero training. Mandatory weapon training for some US police forces is shockingly short. Other countries train any police officer over months to be able to not only hit targets under stress but also to avoid shooting whenever possible.


Zero accountability -> zero regard.


I don't think that a police officer thinks of accountability in this situation. It's a high stress situation and with no training all you can do is randomly shoot. Extensive training would be the answer.


I'm not sure what you're suggesting about military "rules of engagement", but military personnel always have the right to defend themselves, including with deadly force, if they are attacked.

I suspect you're missing something here or not communicating what you're trying to say very well -- military personnel aren't going to sit around and do nothing if they're being shot at, they're going to return fire, call for artillery on the source of the shooting, call for aircraft support to bomb the source of the shooting, call for a QRF team to help them destroy the source of the shooting, etc.

Even "peacekeeping" forces are going to return fire if fired upon.


No, I'm referring very specifically to things like the British Army "Yellow Card" system: http://mikeb302000.blogspot.com/2011/12/rules-of-engagement.... / http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/383102.stm

Having the British Army fire on and kill civilians in Northern Ireland was extremely controversial. Several incidents resulted in murder trials. Some of this is still going on. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-49721166

> Even "peacekeeping" forces are going to return fire if fired upon.

My point is that there have been lots of places in the 20th century where troops have been specifically ordered not to do that without senior authorisation, because of the potential political impact of an escalation.

Or at the very least carefully identify who they are going to be shooting at, and provide a warning, rather than firing blindly into residential buildings.


> Obviously nobody expects the police not to shoot back when fired upon.

When police creates situation in which the other person has no reason to think they are police, where that person can reasonably think it would be legal to shoot, yes I do. That whole situation was created by police and they had time to prepare. So yes, I expect them not to shoot randomly.

It is not reasonable to expect less from police then we expect from civilians.


> Obviously nobody

You mean you. I actually do. Without situational awareness the police should hold their fire lest innocent people be murdered. It isn't all that hard to understand, really.


It seems a ton of people took issue with that statement, meaning it wasn’t obvious at all.


The reason USA Today's coverage is best is because the real reporting is coming from the local newspaper, Louisville Courier-Journal. They're a Gannett property so it ends up getting published through USA Today as well.


I recently canceled my NYT subscription over the Tom Cotton op-ed. Really glad I did. WaPo and ProPublica have my money now.


I still think that when it is a sitting US Senator, and you are in a position to know that many people may only look to you as the paper of record, it can be of public service to let the baddies have their say, for perspective - perhaps with the strongest condemnations from the editorial board.

I generally believe the NYT has a better newsroom than Wapo.


You can re-subscribe: the editor who made this bad call has already resigned.


Bari Weiss and Bret Stephens have not.


And thank goodness they have not. Otherwise, the NYT would be entirely devoid of sense.


I cancelled mine in 2016. when they had biased reporting against Bernie Sanders. to me, a person from a 3rd world country staying in the states. was a shock. one of the biggest papers in the world, being politically biased. I was mad and sad.


I canceled when they pimped the Iraq War. About every time I'm half tempted to finally forgive and move on, they reoffend.


While there is no totally unbiased media, in America it's a feature not a bug. Heck, they even publicly endorse candidates which is extremely weird at least for me, someone not living there.


WaPo holds the distinguished title of being the first and only newspaper in the US whose editorial board endorsed the arrest and criminal charging of their own source.


I hold the WaPo in high regard and tend to read it everyday but I missed this entirely, and sounds rather shocking. Could you please source your statement?


Me shouting at a cloud: "every day" means "all days" or, adverbially, "on every day"; "everyday" means "ordinary, common, expected".

I know I'll get downvoted, but I see the conflation of "everyday" and "every day" everywhere and it's driving me bonkers.

ETA: Note, they are pronounced differently. "Everyday" has a single primary stress on the first syllable. "Every day" has two primary stresses, one on the first syllable and one on the last.


Thanks a( )lot! I didn't know this was a conflation. Learned something new here.


Snowden passed his trove of classified info to two papers: WP and Guardian. Snowden never published any of his trove, he relied on these two papers to determine what was newsworthy and publish it.

WP published various parts of the trove they deemed newsworthy, and ultimately won and accepted a Pulitzer for this.

Then the editorial board signed and published a statement that said some of what was released from the trove actually wasn't newsworthy and were reasonable and legal defense programs. The editorial board recommended that because of this Snowden should be charged. In the editorial itself they acknowledge that the illegal behavior that was discovered can't be used as a defense in court.

The WP was offered and accepted the responsibility to parse this trove and publish only what is newsworthy. They messed up and published a couple documents that weren't newsworthy. They never publish any kind of apology or correction for it, instead they indict their own source, and recommend he be charged for that!

There's an unprecedented level of malice and incompetence displayed here. Look at the revolt in the NYT newsroom about the Cotton op-ed, and compare to literally not a word said in opposition to the WP editorial (which was written and signed by the editorial board, unlike the Cotton op-ed). The WP is rotten throughout, and shouldn't be held in even the slightest regard as a newspaper when they use their position to destroy the protection of sources that journalists fought for so long to preserve.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/edward-snowden-doesn...


May I ask why? I assume this is because many people think it is better that a left-leaning newspaper doesn't publish right-wing opinion pieces, but I would think that this creates a "bubble" and prevents readers from challenging their own opinions.

A reduced version of this question would be: if Hitler/Xi/Kim were to publish an opinion piece in NYT, should they reject it or should they publish it?


For me it was not that it was a right/left opinion piece.

It was a piece calling for the government to murder protesters which the editor solicited and published without reading. Nor was any context or commentary provided indicating such.

(edit) You can also see, now, after the backlash, NYT agrees that it probably shouldn't have been published.

Based on that review, we have concluded that the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/03/opinion/tom-cotton-protes...


It was a piece calling for the government to murder protesters which the editor solicited and published without reading.

Now, you too are making things up. This is where “fake news” charges come from.

Here’s what it actually said:

Those excuses are built on a revolting moral equivalence of rioters and looters to peaceful, law-abiding protesters. A majority who seek to protest peacefully shouldn’t be confused with bands of miscreants.

But the rioting has nothing to do with George Floyd, whose bereaved relatives have condemned violence. On the contrary, nihilist criminals are simply out for loot and the thrill of destruction, with cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa infiltrating protest marches to exploit Floyd’s death for their own anarchic purposes.

These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives.

Sounds reasonable to me. This also proved correct. And I agree with the article.


>On the contrary, nihilist criminals are simply out for loot and the thrill of destruction, with cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa infiltrating protest marches to exploit Floyd’s death for their own anarchic purposes.

It does constitute an opinion, but an incorrect one. Taking over a police station and a city hall in Seattle, for example, is pretty impressive - and it strikes violence at the heart of perceived violence.

No, Antifa is not a club or an organization. There is no membership. And there is no bouncer at the protests to make sure everyone is on the same page or of the same opinion - it is flat out inevitable that some people will be of poor opinion and behavior.

The Right's framing of the relatively small amount of violence is indicative of a police state. The reaction by police unions in the face of calls for punishing abusive cops is indicative of the violent arm of the state protecting its own absolute authority over the people.


I stopped participating in public protests because there's as yet no effective way to counter, neutralize provocateurs.


Do you actually believe the editor didn't read it? That is a pretty blatant and obvious lie to control the fallout.


I actually don't believe it, but I have no evidence to support that belief. But it doesn't matter, because that actually makes it more reprehensible.


They published a story about the publication of the article and the events leading up to it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/business/new-york-times-o...

The editor in question also resigned.

Not saying it justifies the original publication, but I appreciate the way it was handled.


It was handled that way only after first handling it incredlby, horrendously badly. They were dragged kicking and screaming by their entire staff into handling it correctly only after a week of absolutely bungling it.


I subscribe to the Times for that staff. I skip over the clickbait of the Stephenses and Brookses and read Blow and Bouie.


I'm quite certain the Senator did not call for the murder of protestors. I actually read the article.

While as a life-long military person I don't agree with his conclusions, you are mischaracterizing his article and I strongly suspect haven't read it.


"A US Senator thinks we should deploy the military domestically to murder protestors" is pretty important news that the NYT should be covering, and I think there's a fair argument for publishing the piece as part of that coverage. That isn't what the NYT did though; they dropped it as an opinion piece that they implicitly endorsed.

Newspapers fairly regularly print opinion pieces that run contrary to the normal bias of the paper, but they usually refrain from printing ones which advocate violence directed towards the readers (and employees) of the paper.


Of course news agencies should report that the US Senator has that opinion. There are plenty of news agencies that reported on the fact that the NYT published this opinion piece, for instance, and I don’t think people are too upset about those reports. It’s the publishing of the opinion piece that is the issue.


News agencies shouldn't report that because the Senator didn't say that. He made it very clear he was talking about rioters and looters, not protestors:

> Those excuses are built on a revolting moral equivalence of rioters and looters to peaceful, law-abiding protesters. A majority who seek to protest peacefully shouldn’t be confused with bands of miscreants.

And nowhere in the op-ed did he call for murdering or killing anyone.


When someone advocates for "taking no quarter", they're advocating for killing people. You may say the average person doesn't interpret that phrase that way, but a former Army captain like Cotton knows full well what it means.

The thing about the whole argument of, 'we only advocate cracking down on rioters and looters' is how is someone supposed to get that distinction right in the fog of a chaotic situation? Arrest people and have them face trial. Advocating violent and potentially lethal crackdowns on people in situations like this is what brutal autocracies do.


Those words don't appear in the article.


That's not from the op-ed, but since you brought it up, let's talk about it.

> You may say the average person doesn't interpret that phrase that way

Given that he used that phrase in a Tweet, and not in a military order, it's reasonable to assume he was speaking to "the average person" and using that phrase accordingly. And given that he has actually said that he was using the phrase colloquially, you're interpreting his words contrary to what he's clearly said.

And given that he enlisted in 2005, and not in 1905, is it even reasonable to assume that he knew about this ancient meaning of the phrase? Does the military still use this phrase?


The phrase is not outdated. It's not "used by the military" because that would literally be a war crime. Cotton's tweet may be a war crime -- it needn't be an order, even making that threat is a war crime.

https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_rul...


> News agencies shouldn't report that because the Senator didn't say that. He made it very clear he was talking about rioters and looters, not protestors:

Here in Seattle, it wasn't the rioters and looters who were attacked by police, it was mostly peaceful, non-violent protesters.

One might even imagine that the two are deliberately conflated.


I don't see how that comment relates to the op-ed. Suppose police in Seattle are deliberately conflating protestors with looters; that doesn't mean the Senator is or the military would. In fact, it sounds like a reason to send someone other than the Seattle police.


"One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers"

Killing is what the military does.

Trump has declared that the protests are lead by terrorist "Antifa".

The police were already gassing, shooting and brutalizing protesters.

I don't know what other conclusion to draw about what "overwhelming force" and "dominating" would mean in this context besides murdering people.


>I don't know what other conclusion to draw about what "overwhelming force" and "dominating" would mean in this context besides murdering people.

It could mean that you do a show of force so strong that the opposing side gives up. In this case he was probably referring to putting so many policemen/national guard out there that they could disperse and detain all of the looters and rioters. This would likely prevent further looting and rioting as people would see that they would likely get caught.


You're trying to imply something that's contrary to his statement, literally right there in the bit you quoted:

> disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers


What, specifically, do you think an “overwhelming show of force” by the military implies?


To me that reads as they’d send enough personnel to flood an area such that it would deter people from the worst aspects we’ve seen while allowing non violent protests.

So any troublemakers would think twice about trying to hit an area to sew chaos (looting, rioting, setting property on fire, etc.)


When people talk about "overwhelming force" in military context, it's always lethal force.


When the national guard is sent in there it’s there to maintain order.

Militaries are also trained for peacekeeping missions. It’s not all about trigger happy gun toters.

If it’s an all out rebellion that’s different. I don’t see a ruby ridge or Waco incident coming, but maybe you do.


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I think the effect would be good: the military would handle the situation better and fewer people would get hurt. They're used to operating in hostile situations under restrictive rules of engagement, they aren't the people being protested against, and people who've seen combat wouldn't find thrill or threat in a confrontation with unarmed protestors.

In other words, I think your final paragraph is a false dilemma based on an unsupported assumption.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma


> He made it very clear he was talking about rioters and looters, not protestors

People actually killing protesters always, without fail, claim to be trying to stop "rioters and looters". This is not a phrase to be taken at face value, ever.


Yes it is. We can’t make up things that people did not say and get mad at them for it. That’s absurd.


Nobody's made anything up?


That is not what it said at all.


Obviously you reject it, and you publish a story about how this person wanted to publish an opinion piece advocating war crimes, because that's the part that is news.

Also, this is so obvious, to so many parts of the political spectrum that pretending to not understand it is "telling on yourself" in modern parlance.


Vox actually covers this really well https://www.vox.com/2020/6/5/21280425/new-york-times-tom-cot...

Basically it boils down to:

* it was a fairly dangerous opinion with fabrications that weren’t vetted by the editorial team

* it was disrespectful and dangerous to the safety of their employees of color. The safety of people should not be a partisan issue

* it compromised the reporting abilities of other arms of the NYT


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You have to be purposefully ignoring the reality of current events in the USA to take your position unfortunately. Have you looked at how much more aggressively police have been targeting people of color during these protests? Your view only makes sense in a truly equal world. We are not in that world.


> but I just can't imagine the thought process behind 'and the bullets avoid white / asian NYT reporters and crew members and specifically target the ones with melanin above a certain level'.

Bullets don't fly on their own accord. Someone aims them.


That is a serious accusation. What evidence do you have that this hypothetical you are constructing has any bearing to reality? I remember a time when 'innocent until proven guilty' was a guiding principle of public conversation. These days we gleefully accuse people of hypothetical crimes. How about we stop doing that?


> I remember a time when 'innocent until proven guilty' was a guiding principle of public conversation

It's a guiding principle of jurisprudence, not conversation. Don't be so pompous as to think the level of your discourse rises to that of a court proceeding.


I did not make any accusation. I was clarifying the position of the people who's thought process you "couldn't imagine".

Now you can.


The problem is soliciting an outrageous policy statement and then uncritically publishing it, without any kind of pushback.


> if Hitler/Xi/Kim were to publish an opinion piece in NYT, should they reject it or should they publish it?

They did publish a chunk of Mein Kampf back in 1941, only adding a single small paragraph of context.


It says there was a confrontation first, and then explains why under the big "Why did the police fire their weapons?" heading. Seems clear enough to me...


The heading “what happened” purports to tell you the salient facts. The first paragraph proceeds in chronological order. Then it spends two paragraphs talking about stuff like how Taylor planned to be an EMT. And then it circles back to the shooting, and explains that the previously described “confrontation” was the boyfriend shooting at the police. Which totally changes your understanding of the narrative three paragraphs before. There is nothing clear about that.


Not to mention they wanted to charge the boyfriend with attempted murder after all that happened.


Did they not charge him with attempted murder? They initially arrested him after the shoot out.


They did, and recently dropped the charges[0].

0: https://www.wdrb.com/in-depth/prosecutors-drop-attempted-mur...


Well said. I learned about this incident from the coverage in the NYT, and this was exactly my sequence of reactions. I remember thinking, “wait a second, did I miss something?” at one point, and re-reading the article from the beginning.


context: I am a super liberal hippy. I'm really left, like, crazy.

I paused reading your comment at "instead you need to go down several" because I wanted to test my current knowledge of this incident: almost nothing, I know, hard to believe, given the claim at the start. (I've been under a lot of stress at work, it's OK, I'm fine, thanks for asking though :) )

So I read the article... Here is the first paragraph under "What happened in Louisville?"

"Shortly after midnight on March 13, Louisville police officers, executing a search warrant, used a battering ram to crash into the apartment of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American emergency room technician. After a brief confrontation, they fired several shots, striking her at least eight times."

OK - so, I feel like I completely understand this is a complicated situation, not one where the cops kicked down the door and started shooting.

1. "After a brief confrontation"

This is an obvious "and cut-to," that is, I know lots of stuff happened here. I would expect a reader who isn't completely engulfed in polarizing furor to think about this for a second like I did.

2. Gunshots after a confrontation

I think this might be contentious, or where this is all loaded up... When I see "a confrontation" followed by "eight gunshots" - I actually do assume there was some reason that a reasonable gun toting police offer might have to fire after a confrontation. To me, this sets a pretty clear context.

Let me add some more that came in later paragraphs that helped crystalize my understanding and leaves me feeling like the article here isn't really as biased as you are reading it as, though, I am not accusing you of being biased, or misreading the article. I can't begin to know all the things that contribute to your thinking, and vice-versa!

3. no-knock warrant

While this all sounded like a completely legal entry, and a normal police procedure, here are my personal "let me add some context to how I interpret this" thoughts.

- If I were a POC (I'm not), multiple plain-clothed white men with guns just stormed into my apartment. This is immediately tense. Imagine how you would react. What's going through your mind as a civilian? Keep in mind, police should be trained to do a no-knock warrant. They should be experienced and cool as a cucumber. I want this in our operators who go into dangerous situations, in fact, I expect it. You can train for danger. There is no excuse for imprecision when you are dealing with life and death, especially if, when doing it, you aren't planning to deal with life or death.

4. Her home was searched not because of an actual crime she committed, but because it was a possible drop-off location for a package involved in a crime.

This feels really weak. Investigate the location then. Stake it out. Find your target and gather more evidence. This sounds rushed, and desperate. Storming an intermediate source of evidence rather than waiting for a better opportunity? Welp, it's not my job so I honestly don't know. I'm not in law enforcement so opinions are like assholes, right?

So in summary?

I think NYT speaks to a reader who is open-minded and understands that context is important, and that these subjects are complex. Maybe I'm giving them too much credit? If someone can walk away from the article with your point of view, I must be, time to think about that.

If anyone broke down my door, I would attack them. If I had a gun, I would shoot them, I wouldn't think twice. I sit here, and have no reason to believe someone should kick in my door unless they mean me harm. Let me grant other people the same right.

I expect police to be professional. The details on how this went down are not professional. It think that is safe to say simply because of the outcome.

The police were executing a warrant for a bad person who was not the person who died. How can we accept that they were in control of the situation, and if we cannot, or we think they couldn't have been, why would we send people into such a situation?

I am very flexible when it comes to granting authorities protections and flexibility in interpreting the law. I actually, for most of my life, have had faith in the system. I can imagine a scenario where I think many objective individuals would agree a no-knock warrant would make sense, so I can agree that they might be useful. I can also agree that ill-equipped people given tools they don't comprehend, or are not thoughtful enough, or well trained enough to use, will ultimately abuse and/or misuse them.


I can imagine a scenario where I think many objective individuals would agree a no-knock warrant would make sense, so I can agree that they might be useful.

There is a danger in this tabula rasa sort of thinking. If we think only of imaginary scenarios and "in theory this is how it works", we're likely to ignore the very real consequences of this awful practice. Ms Taylor isn't the first person to die in this situation (innocent person killed entirely due to police incompetence); neither is she the thousandth. Lots of police die from no-knocks gone awry as well. There is no reason for any of this. If police know where the suspect is located, they may collect her or him at any time. When the suspect is a regular person with a regular job, why not make an arrest when she or he leaves the house to go to work in the morning? How about arresting the suspect at work, with no opportunity to hide evidence or resist?

The "nightmare scenario" that cynical police spin for credulous judges is that drugs might be flushed down a toilet. But drug prohibition is itself cynical and evil. Prohibition has only ever harmed American society. As we collectively wake from our long nightmare of drug enforcement, we must do away with all the insidious menaces that it has inspired. Our police will not be replaced overnight with "responsible" authoritarians, so we must not "imagine" we can safely allow them the tools of authoritarian tyranny, on the off chance that they might not be used in the way they have always been used. You write as if it's only because of "unprofessional" actions that Ms Taylor was killed. In fact, "unprofessionalism" is why we are blaming the police, but people like Ms Taylor are killed in no-knock raids even when every action is performed in adequately "professional" fashion. Occasionally no one dies senselessly, but these raids are always dangerous and unnecessary. That is a practical truth, which overrides "objective" theory.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/03/no-knock-...


Great comment. Ending prohibition would drastically alleviate so many problems. Not just in the US, but in the whole Western hemisphere. And with almost no downside, since it doesn't even fucking work to begin with.


Came here for this thread. The whole incident rests on top of a chain of policy consequences which shouldn't exist, for either Constitutional or moral reasons. The way to fix this insanity, and alleviate a LOT of the issues which are currently being debated, is to somehow elect a group of representatives that don't START with the assumption that the "War on Drugs" is necessary in the first place.


Thanks for that comment, and while I didn't mean to make my comment come across as broadly accepting of "good willed police authority", it totally reads that way, and I can't say that I didn't mean that in my head!

I hope folks read your comment and follow the link, it's worth the read.


Thanks for conversing in such a friendly and reasonable way. b^)


Wow, that "nightmare scenario" looks more like the exact thing that needs to be flushed down the toilet.

Either the amount shouldn't matter or you shouldn't be able to flush it all at once (also, as if "plumbing forensics" didn't exist)


Did you read the entire article? You think that it was OK for some gunfire after some confrontation, but didn't question what the brief confrontation was?what about the past where the police claimed to break the door down and we're immediately meet with gunfire? So what was the brief confrontation? And where does it come from? I don't think anyone involved said there was a brief confrontation. And why did the boyfriend call 911 and report someone kicked his door in and shot his girlfriend?

Personally I would be questioning the need for a no knock warrant on a house that "might" have been a drug drop.

One thing I don't get, is how three officers managed to miss the guy shooting at them.


I really can't believe that anyone thought that having plain-clothed cops serve a no-knock warrant in the middle of the night with no squad cars or body cameras for a case where the suspect was already in custody made sense. It also doesn't seem like they were expecting armed resistance, probably because they knew the suspect was in custody. Instead, I suspect that these are dirty cops who were essentially trying to burglarize a drug dealer's apartment and got caught off guard when the accidentally broke into the home of some armed but law-abiding citizens.


Oh wow. That may be taking it too far, but is there a reason to believe that might be a possible scenario here?


They claimed that they announced themselves which suggests that they didn't know that the warrant they were serving was no-knock.

Their shots apparently hit the apartment above. With a breaching entry and an unknown target, random positioning in the horizontal plane may be expected but in the vertical plane it is definitely not. That suggests that they were holstered when they kicked in the door. Further, the gunner shot once and hit while the "police" shot many times and only managed to hit his girlfriend which suggests that they were much more panicked than someone that was asleep 1 minute before the encounter started.

what does the evidence look like when the police decided to rob you?


Evidence looks like the police came in unprofessionally, unprepared, and embarrassed. This is not excusable. They are lucky more lives weren’t lost.


Wow. I did not realize the other apartment was located above. I thought it was next door.

Just, wow.


There's the stat that the police take more in civil forfeiture than all burglaries, but that's the "perfectly legal" theft by police. Invisible theft by police - seizing drugs or money and then not registering them as evidence but instead taking themselves - is almost impossible to quantify, since it happens under strong omerta.


>is there a reason to believe that might be a possible scenario here?

It is not unheard of for drug task forces to augment their official income by robbing drug dealers. I wanna say one of the major cities in CA had a task force that got into trouble for this as did IIRC Newark and Baltimore (pretty sure it was them but not 100%). It's definitely A Thing(TM). There was at least one story of a particularity systemic case that hit HN.


Yep in Baltimore the Guns Task Force was robbing drug dealers and then reselling the drugs. You can read more about it here: http://data.baltimoresun.com/news/gun-trace-overview/


I feel like my conclusions align in spirit with where you are, but don't want to put words in your mouth.

I feel very strongly, that at midnight, if a door is broken down, into the home of someone who legally owns a gun, it is my expectation that the owner of that gun shoots first and asks questions later.

To be clear: shooting first and asking questions later is stupid. I hope people think more than that, but in a moment of panic, chaos, surprise, and fear, I would do the same.

In this power dynamic, where an organized, state sponsored force is forcibly entering the private home of a citizen unannounced, and plainclothed (though let me admit, I doubt I'd be able to spot a uniform in those circumstances), I do expect the state sponsored force to be trained, experienced, and to be acting in good faith.

I do not read that this situation was acted out in good faith. The fact that there was someone inside with a gun, that the gun was fired, and that happened between a door being kicked in, and any other communication is meaningless to me.

Everything that happened before that is meaningful.

1. All criminals in case already arrested

2. no criminals present at location of raid

3. no (to my knowledge) plan/knowledge/prep for armed people at the location, despite that information seemingly being available (legal gun owner, clear association, I mean, we can assume the police can make that association, since they were able to do so with the ex-boyfriend who was already under investigation? Am I being facetious? Maybe.)

This should have never happened, and what happened after the door was knocked down is not what needs to be reviewed, focus on the top of the funnel: cops executing no-knock warrants on non-violent locations where no criminals are known to be present and also where a known associate of the homeowner is a legal gun owner. Don't kick that door down at midnight in a surprise raid. It's sloppy, and not work I accept.


@dang: could we have a commend option in addition to flag?

This comment, and a number of other comments from both sides in this thread proves that it is possible to have a good discussion on hot topics, and I live that as I feel I have now understood a lot more not only about what happened but also how it could happen.

edit: changed "can we get" to "could we have" to make it clear that this is not a feature request but an idea.

edit2: why I care is because so many of the most important discussions that come up get flagged down because they tend to be usalvagable. My hope was that this idea or something similar could help. I should also note that I don't think it would be easy to pull off as it would lead to accusations about favoritism etc.


You have a commend button, it's the little up arrow to the left of the comment.


Nope, not the same. Ordinary upvotes hasn't had visible results since around the time dang took over from pg.

Commend, if accepted by mods, should result in a visual difference in the display of the post somehow opposite of how flags works: pin to top, really small star or something. Maybe a list of exceptionally good answers in the users the profile.

I was once "caught" for doing something correctly that all teenagers tend to fail on (technical, trivial thing) and ten years later since then I realized I had always got it right after that day when someone told me that they appreciated it.

I don't know if this is a good idea, but I wanted to mention it.


You’re getting downvoted. Welcome to hacker news, this must not be a surprise.

Thank you brave soldier. I appreciate your comment. I don’t care about HN karma, even if I do, but your comment is meaningful to me above an upvote.

I’m a “new” manager, and I am a terrible communicator (and/or I have impostor syndrome). I’ve been trying desperately to improve how I communicate personally and professionally.

This thread is maybe a perverse exercise in that, so your comment is great feedback. Thanks. Hang in there.


> Welcome to hacker news, this must not be a surprise.

I've been here for over ten years in some form or another so it is no surprise by now :-)

In fact while I really like HN I sometimes have to laugh at the voting patterns here.

E.g. Last week I think I got a bunch of downvotes for describing my first hand experience with something that everyone was suddenly an expert on :-)

> I’m a “new” manager, and I am a terrible communicator. I’ve been trying desperately to improve how I communicate personally and professionally.

Not a manager, but I also struggle with this. Also I would be happy if more people communicated as well as you!

> Hang in there.

Thanks! You too!


HN is one of the highest concentrations of intelligence on the planet, and much could be learned from voting patterns of this demographic. But as far as I can tell, keeping the peace is all that matters. Social good is for other people to do, always and everywhere.


I don't know about intelligence, but we certainly have big egos!


> HN is one of the highest concentrations of intelligence on the planet, and much could be learned from voting patterns of this demographic.

Probably correct for what I know. But that doesn't means that all results here are valid.

The concentration of intelligence is obvious, but that doesn't mean I don't see sloppy reading and weird logic all the time.

Intelligent people also have biases, also read too fast and doesn't catch the nuances, also become hot headed etc etc.


You are correct. It is not difficult to find at least one single fault in any human being.

It seems interesting that a community whose members overwhelmingly work in logical domains, also struggles being consistently logical on an aggregate basis.

And not just that, the abstract topic itself is...rather touchy.

Might there be something interesting to learn here?


> It seems interesting that a community whose members overwhelmingly work in logical domains, also struggles being consistently logical on an aggregate basis.

The bar to become a member is low, and while comments are scrutinized and can be flagged, votes aren't.

And let me be honest: even I vote for or against topics that I wouldn't write for or against.

I think this is often observed in elections as well were people will give a secret vote to something they agree with even if they aren't ready to face their families about it.

FTR: I think the system tries to mitigate this to some degree. I don't think all votes are created equal here.

> Might there be something interesting to learn here?

Absolutely :-)


> The bar to become a member is low

As it is on most any other site. And depending on who signs up and participates on which each site, you end up with some sort of an average intelligence level per site. HN's I suspect would be rather close to the top.

> and while comments are scrutinized and can be flagged, votes aren't.

Indeed they aren't, which is my point.

> I think this is often observed in elections as well were people will give a secret vote to something they agree with even if they aren't ready to face their families about it.

And one might expect the same to occur here, but does it, and to what degree? Is there more, less, or identical diversity of cultural/political beliefs in the general public, or on HN? Based on many years reading comments (particularly dimmed-due-to-downvotes ones, and responses to them) here, I have a feeling that there is less diversity of thought here.

Knowing such things with high levels of accuracy would require a form of omniscience, but that doesn't mean that nothing can be gleaned from user behavior on HN, or any sit for that matter.

>> Might there be something interesting to learn here?

> Absolutely :-)

What sorts of things do you think we could learn if one had access to the HN voting data?


> HN is one of the highest concentrations of intelligence on the planet [...]

Oh please. It's mostly just another tech forum.


Identical to all the others. No difference whatsoever.

It would be funny if people on HN programmed computers in the same way they talk outside of shop conversations.


> I would expect a reader who isn't completely engulfed in polarizing furor to think about this for a second like I did.

You have an extraordinarily large amount of faith in the average reader. I have 2k FB friends that would absolutely love to prove you wrong.


You’re probably not wrong. I do think we should hold our friends and colleagues to a higher standard. We should be able to have difficult conversations and explain why we feel what we feel. It’s hard when people are defensive for totally understandable reasons.


After a confrontation the police fired eight shots

...but the parent comment is saying the confrontation itself involved gunshots?

After being shot at, the police fired eight shots

I might add I know nothing about this case other than what I’ve read in this comment thread.


Yep, I made clear if not in the above comment, in another, that if the police are firing shots after a confrontation, that I believe the police have a reason to do so, so I am not surprised by confrontation also meaning “shots fired by someone other than the police” - it makes sense in this context if one believes the police should only fire shots themselves if they are threatened.


Still, would you agree that the wording of the article tries to create an impression that the police fired first, and tries to downplay the fact that the boyfriend fired first?

I do not disagree that the police was wrong to storm the place, but I think that given the well-known bias of NYT, they are trying to create more rage in the community by creating an impression that the police fired first.


No, In fact, I hope I was clear in my description: my assumption is that if a door breaks down, and a confrontation happens, if the people inside have any weapons, I expect them to defend themselves.

(edit: I said Absolutely not... but I changed it to no, I can see how someone would read what was printed as biased/attempting to push a narrative, I just didn't read it that way, and expect better of people who read the news)

That may be where we differ. It's my belief that our homes are private and safe. That's clearly not true given the existence of no-knock warrants, but as long as the two exist together, I will default to the power dynamic being in the hands of the person in the home, not he intruder, legal, or not. Especially when the intruder is a form of authority that I expect to be thoughtful and accountable.

For what it's worth, I might be intentionally ignorant to bias - I read fox news periodically just so I can understand the language used by different views than my own. I am often critical of liberal news sources. I generally agree that news sources, not just the NYT, are involved in low-effort journalism, and a deep lack of critical thinking and introspection. I think this helps me cut through the obvious bullshit, so that when it goes into my memory, it is with less bias than intended maybe? I'm not bias free though.

In this article though, I'm not feeling it, but I will sincerely give it another read with what you mentioned, and try to come back and comment.


> I think that given the well-known bias of NYT

People saying it doesn't make it true. The only argument you've made is quibbling about the order in which the facts are introduced. I see 7 subheadings in the story. The details of who shot when follows the second one. But not putting it first is evidence of an agenda? Come on.


Exactly this. The single most important question with a shootout is “Who fired the first shot?” The Times clearly misleads the reader to think the police fired first after a “brief confrontation,” only later to reveal that this confrontation was the police being shot at by the boyfriend. The fact that the Times did not report the sequence of shots in that straightforward way (in the purportedly dispassionate “What Happened...“ section of the article) indicates their clear bias.


I think this question becomes more complex when it includes "who fired the first shot when plainclothesed men break down a door into an apartment at midnight where there is a legal gun-owner"

1. They should have known a legal gun owner was present. What would anyone expect a gun-owner to do when their home is broken into? Hasn't Charlton Heston said something about all this?

2. They should have been trained and prepared to execute their warrant under these conditions with a plan for mitigating loss of life, especially since the suspects in the crime were already arrested, and none were thought to be present at the address. None of the people at the address were suspected of criminal activity, and no drugs, or criminal paraphernalia were found. The stakes of the raid were not justified in my opinion - but I of course, do not have all the facts, but I feel like I have enough to make these statements.

I absolutely will not accept "who shot first" that's absurd.


To clarify, I’m not denying that the Taylor’s boyfriend had the right to shoot first. My point is that the NYT readers generally don’t believe in the right to bear arms, or for armed homeowners to shoot at intruders. If you reject that premise, it becomes much harder to understand why the police did something wrong. That’s why the NYT buries that fact instead of reporting it in the straightforward chronological order.


What should the NYT have said, and what forms your opinion of how NYT readers interpret an article like this? Personally, I don't think I could even get anecdata on people I know based on their primary news source.


> After a brief confrontation, they fired several shots, striking her at least eight times.

To

Breonna's boyfriend fearing for his safety fired several shots at the plain-clothed men who had just broken into his home. These police officers returned fired, striking Breonna at least eight times.

When most people read "Kenneth got into a brief confrontation with John. John then fired four rounds at Kenneth." they will assume brief confrontation means "shouting and cursing match" or "physical altercation" not "fired a gun at".


That’s fair. I think there are a lot of ways to interpret how one person or another can... interpret this... with that said, my stance has been clear on the balance of power in this kind of situation.

Your home, your legally owned gun, your panic and chaos, you shoot. I would do the same, I would not be surprised that others did the same.

Expectation of professionalism, and de-escalation is on the regulated authority with power and accountability. If they were well trained, and made a calculated risk for an important case, they may be justified. From all that I can find, it seems clear to me that the police acted unprofessionally, and anything past that is not really a factor until that unprofessional behavior is addressed.


But it can also lead to prejudgement if you reduce the events of what had transpired to that question.

I also understood it that it is not the fact the police responded in kind that is criticised, instead they question the viability of these no-knock raids in general.

Maybe the order could have been better, but I don't see a real problem here.


One could say that the more important question is: Why are there armed persons at the location in question?

If the police had not been there at all, or had been issued a standard warrant, the the "who shot first" issue is not a question that needs to be asked.


> Obviously nobody expects the police not to shoot back when fired upon.

They do it in other countries though. Equipped with vests, helmets and shields police forces have much more protection against gunshots compared to the shooter. Even if they're shot at, they have still multiple options to resolve the threat without killing the shooter. But that needs extensive training.


The details are there. It seems you're complaining about their order as evidence of a conspiracy theory, "to make the victim seem more sympathetic."

The only conspiracy is that people want those who are not typically victims of these injustices to be inclusive in their thinking about who deserves life and who should make that determination.


I don't think I've seen anything covered by NYT in the past few moths to a year or two that wasn't misrepresenting things. BLM coverage, before that epi coverage, before that many other things (remember how they portrayed Naomi Wu using pejoratives that edgelords use? I do.)


> While he was fully entitled to do that, the NYT doesn’t believe in gun rights so that’s a messy fact.

This kind of reporting really needs to stop. There’s plenty of room for color in news and it’s used to its full potential.

Wasn’t the FCC fairness doctrine designed to combat this?


It makes me so upset how distorted all media coverage has been of all sides of this overall topic, from the start. Even if, with the new information you provided, the basic conclusion is the same - "police overreach, especially when it comes to black people" - the details remain extremely important not just for the integrity of that conclusion, but even more so when it comes to forming opinions about where to assign blame and how to solve the problem at a systemic level. I'm mildly infuriated that this is the first I'm hearing these crucial details.


Focusing on the fact that the guy shot first is way more misleading, as it detracts from the important issue of no-knock, plain-clothes warrants.

A group of people breaks into someone's house at midnight with weapons and it's not a story that someone defended themselves, at all. Bringing it up is a distraction - and this entire HN thread is a perfect example of that.

If the guy hadn't shot, or had shot second, or if Taylor hadn't been killed at all, it wouldn't make what they did justifiable. The fact that their absolute negligence led to a situation where a woman died is just what makes this that much more important to focus on.

It is not moved to another section "for a snappier piece" as you put it in another comment. It is simply not important information, it is not relevant, it does not change the judgment, it does not change that the police are responsible for her death.


Are they? If a group of people feel preyed upon and these, plain clothes officers with weapons, no-knock entered, they got what they deserved period.

The onus is on the enforcement to manage damage, not a citizen who doesn't even know its coming. The intelletualizing of this is ridiculous, its a common sense issue.


You clearly skimmed my comment without actually reading it. The police were obviously in the wrong. But the exact way in which they were in the wrong remains extremely relevant to all of the discussions going on right now, yet the media appears to have largely cut it out of the story because that makes for a snappier piece. If we want to solve these issues as a society, we need to be working off of good information.


Appreciate the response, but didn't skim it. The "details" are inconsequential here. Im not bailing out the media, because their job has morphed into an attention megaphone in order to survive. The reason details dont matter is that the core problem is police acting with impunity. The problem becomes even worse when you look it relative to the victims accountability in all these cases.

Theres that video from two days ago of that (white) union chief screaming and spitting about "how deserve more respect and we are tearing them down" and it was accompanied by an array of tweets that said "He gets treated like a black guy for 2 weeks and he has a mental breakdown." I think this story even in it's detail loose state is an appropriate weapon to even the fight.


It’s distorted due to the same 2 or 3 families owning all of the news sources you’re reading, and using those to push political agendas. Even the parent post points out the distortion field working overtime on this article.

We rail against twitter or Facebook when they push politics and don’t act like a nonpartisan medium of transmission, but we’ve allowed our news to become exactly that.


I also hate that there seems to be a point of view that the US police and justice system is the worst in the world.

I can attest that in most of the other countries of the world, you can't point a gun at the police and get away with it.

Most importantly, you can't even talk about this case in the media, you can't sue the government, you can't hire a lawyer to fight against the government, your family will be threatened and you surely won't receive a 5 million dollar settlement that all US shootings inevitably end up with.


The US leads the world in prison population, compared to other democracies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_United_States_in...

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that I don't live in China. But it's pretty embarrassing for the richest and most powerful country in the world (allegedly bearing the mantle of freedom and democracy and Enlightenment values), to have to compare ourselves to totalitarian dictatorships to feel better about ourselves, instead of other democracies, most of whom have yearly counts of deaths by law enforcement in the single digits: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_killings_by_law_enforc...


> The US leads the world in prison population, compared to other democracies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_United_States_in...

According to your link, the US leads the world in prison population, period.


As for your second point, I've seen an article on CNN the other day that says US kills twice as many people (per 1M arrests) than Australia.

It seems like a lot, but then consider that only 5% of people killed by police in the US were unarmed. The other 95% were armed, and most of those cases seem to be actual criminals rather than ordinary people like Breonna Taylor's boyfriend.

I'm with you on the American police being quite distinct from other police forces, and there's a lot of criticism to be made about them - like failure to keep proper statistics about police killings - but I think it's also fair to consider the circumstances that they work in.

As for your first point, many of the things can be true at the same time: US puts too many people into jails, there is too much crime in the US, and there are ways to obtain justice that are not available in most other countries (mass media, social media, courts).


> only 5% of people killed by police in the US were unarmed. The other 95% were armed

You say this so casually, like the 95% of people killed deserve to be dead? Most other developed countries had problems with guns, and have dealt with it by restricting them, not by making the police militarised and just shooting more 'bad guys'


> I've seen an article on CNN the other day that says US kills twice as many people (per 1M arrests) than Australia.

Do you have the link?

I don't know how to find the number of arrests, but in Australia there were 4 people killed by law enforcement in 2016/17 and in the US there were 1,536 killed (2019). Australia has a population of 24M, the US 329M, (so 13 times the population). At the same per-population rate as Australia, the US would kill 52 people, and at double the per-population rate it would be 104.

It would seem astonishing that the arrest rates somehow converts to the US only killing twice as many people!


>and there are ways to obtain justice that are not available in most other countries (mass media, social media, courts).

How many countries in the world do you imagine don't have courts, social media or mass media? Or even lack any of the above?


based on 2015 data it's closer to 30% - https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed


I don't see that on this page. I see "police killed at least 104 unarmed black people in 2015", and "unarmed black people were killed at 5x the rate of unarmed whites in 2015".

So I think that makes around 125-130 unarmed people killed by police. [1] says that there were 1,134 people killed that year by police.

125/1134 = 11%

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/31/the-counted-...


Next point under the 104 figure "36% of unarmed people killed by police were black in 2015" 36% is 104, 100% is 289


How can the 36% and the 5x numbers both be correct? I'm puzzled!!

Also that's still "only" 25% that are unarmed.


one is absolute numbers, other is per million.


To be clear, do you think either of the victims in this incident did anything wrong?

I do agree that in many cases both sides did something wrong, but in this case I can't imagine how you can find fault there.


Sorry, I was thinking of some of the other similar cases. I removed that part of my comment now.

Indeed, the victims in this case did nothing wrong, given the information that I have. I would probably shoot at the intruders too in that situation.


> I can attest that in most of the other countries of the world,

I'm not sure to which countries you are referring.

But in many countries around the world this problem is greatly reduced, if not eliminated only because these countries also have strict gun laws that stop this happening.


It is interesting that the presence of guns is regarded as something that makes police work a lot harder and dangerous in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world, while the training of new officers is limited to weeks instead of years.


Too me it seems a fairly logical conclusion.

A police office in the US has to assume the perpetrator will be armed with a weapon and that then leads to the 'shoot first ask questions later' approach to policing.

Alternatively, places where guns are not so prevalent means that anxiety is greatly reduced.

As an example the majority of English police (i.e. bobbies) do their patrol work while not carrying a gun.


There seems to be a pattern of similar reporting, and I wonder what are the reasons for that:

- "Police started killing black transgenders now" means "police shot a person who has just killed someone, was suicidal and was pointing a gun at the police"

- "A boy who played in the park was shot by police" means "a boy was pointing an illegally modified replica gun at people in the park".

- "Police randomly shot an unarmed black man who was reading a book" means "a guy who was high and armed tried to pull a gun on a black police officer". (This last bit of fake news caused riots that left 1 dead)

If you don't enrage the readers, then there's really nothing to discuss.

We all agree that people should have the constitutional rights. Most people killed by the police are white. Blacks and whites are killed in equal proportions relative to the number of arrests by race. We all agree that the police makes horrible mistakes sometimes and should be punished.

The media's goal is to make us disagree and hate each other.


Feels like this incident is even more egregious than the George Floyd incident. In this case the police actually tried to frame the boyfriend, and probably would have gotten away with murder and convicting an innocent person if not for national attention


I agree, but video and a simple narrative goes a long way to getting support.

Breonna's case has the following disadvantages: many Americans are willing to give LEOs benefit of the doubt when there is no video, it's "the word of the police versus a suspected criminal", the police union's hitpiece[1] in the media, and the slow wheels of the legal ("justice") system to investigate the facts which are never fully known in the media within days of an incident.

[1] https://www.wdrb.com/in-depth/louisville-police-fop-presiden...


I recently led the project completely rewriting the incident reporting system for one of the top 3 (by size) police departments in the country. This report wouldn't have even come close to passing client-side (or server-side for that matter) validations upon submission. An incident classified as a death with no medical information submitted? Usually the systems have some basic checks in place to ensure that, for example, if a theft occurred, property marked as stolen is present in the report. Likewise for any incident with some sort of physical harm: there's always a medical incident listed too. And a (nearly) blank narrative?! Even if that's due to Louisville PD policy, it still wouldn't have flown in the city I worked in. A simple assault (not battery, no injury) on public transit where the offender ran away and nobody could identify them would've produced a more thorough report than this one.

If this is standard in Louisville and there are no safeguards in their reporting software, stringent incident reporting software ought to be added to the list of reforms we ask of them.


The nearly blank narrative is listed under the header “public narrative”. Many departments use this to separate out the actual narrative from what can be immediately provided to the public (often just a sentence or two). So, there’s a possibility the full narrative was withheld as it’s an active investigation.

It’s also not uncommon practice for initial report narratives to be somewhat anemic when the follow-up investigation is immediate. Homicides being a perfect example where, in many agencies, all the useful details beyond “found dead guy” are in the murder book (i.e. case notes) outside of RMS.


This deserves state and/or federal investigations...

EDIT:

Contrast: In Washington State, an investigation about the death in Tacoma a couple months ago was just this mentioned in a news conference by the governor. Due to conflicts of interest the state is currently evaluating who can be assigned to lead a fully independent and unbiased investigation, with new announcements expected in the next few days.


The Louisville PD and the FBI have both announced investigations and the officers involved are on paid leave. Historically, that hasn't generally produced much in the way of prosecutions. Maybe in the current climate things will be different.


The concept of paid leave has always puzzled me. This would be my choice of punishment if I am ever given a choice.


Paid leave isn't meant to be a punishment. There is some expectation that police officers will inherently be involved in controversial activities that will require further investigation, some of which may legitimately reveal that the cop did nothing wrong. Paid leave is supposed to be a compromise to remove cops from active duty during the investigation (in case they are guilty, we don't want them still roaming the street potentially doing bad things) but also not be a punishment (in case they aren't guilty).

The problem is that said investigations always seem to drag their feet, never going further than the paid leave, and never seem to actually get to the things that are meant to be a punishment (firing, arrest, etc).


Arrest should be made nevertheless, on the grounds of possible witness intimidation. I'm not saying that they do it all the time, but the power dynamics allow it to happen, so the best approach for a crystal clear investigation is to have the officers removed from the community that is investigating them.


Greater amounts of paid leave are the primary reward structure for seniority and promotion in my workplace.


there was a comment posted by rayiner that was quickly deleted

>It’s a Constitutional (and undoubtedly contractual) requirement. Police officers are employed pursuant to a contract. A contractual benefit is considered a property interest that cannot be taken away without “due process.” Hence police officers remain employed (and getting paid) until an investigation establishes they actually did something wrong. Private employers don’t need to provide due process so this doesn’t apply.

probably deleted because it's wrong; deleted before i could submit my response:

>It’s a Constitutional (and undoubtedly contractual) requirement.

you're wrong

> “Property interests, of course, are not created by the Constitution. Rather, they are created and their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state law—rules or understandings that secure certain benefits and that support claims of entitlement to those benefits.”

so it's a matter of “legitimate entitlements”. in fact "legislature may elect not to confer a property interest in federal employment" and moreover in Bishop v. Wood SC accepted a lower court's opinion that police are employed at will even if discharge is conditional on due process.

all this and more at https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution-conan/amendment-14/...


Don’t get him started on CATV franchises or residential zoning laws.


Thank you, with: Breonna Taylor FBI I did see some actual news stories. Interesting that none were apparent when just using Federal or State as keywords.


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