A couple of years ago, right as I started my current job I was summoned for jury duty. The morning of, I hoped that once they asked me what I did for a living (worked at a victim’s rights law firm), and what my degree was in(psychology) they would excuse me from jury selection. However, I found out that I was going to be on a grand jury for the next two weeks. We would hear multiple cases that the ADA’s brought before us.
Most of the cases were stupid and a huge waste of time and tax-payer dollars. We were instructed that we could ask no questions about police procedures. If a cop testified that he pulled over a car and found a nickel-bag of weed, we couldn’t ask why the cop pulled the car over? I heard more cases about weed than was necessary. But my experience being on a grand jury gives me more insight into what happened with the Breonna Taylor case.
Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron has within his power to bring charges against the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor without going to a grand jury. He went to the grand jury because it absolves him of guilt. The jury voted not to indict, so his hands are essentially tied. But the grand jury can only vote on the indictments that the prosecutor brings before them. It’s up to the prosecutor to present the case with the facts that they deem pertinent to the case and with the witnesses that will help them present their case effectively.
Grand jury procedures are not public. You cannot go and sit in on them. There is no judge. It’s the jury, the prosecutors, and any witnesses. We will probably never know what was said in that grand jury. We will never know how the case was presented, but based on the way the case has been handled over the past 6 months we can guess. Anyone who has watched Law & Order knows that our justice system works very closely with law enforcement. Our courts need police officers to uphold the laws, and police officers need the courts to skirt around the same laws they are meant to uphold. After I served on that grand jury, it made me realize that our justice system is deeply flawed. What might have started out with best intentions has turned into an institution that values punishment over justice. In this case, it values money over a life.
The settlement that Breonna Taylor’s family received should have strengthened the criminal case because the state chose to settle, but instead it is the only justice that her family will receive. The officers, all except one, who murdered their loved one are still working, still getting paid, and are completely unremorseful for the damage that they have caused. When the laws that govern, our land were written, Black people were slaves. These laws were never meant to protect us. The system is working the way that it always has. America was not built on freedom and democracy, but on greed and capitalism. The American revolution was literally about not wanting to pay taxes to Great Britain.
If anyone is shocked at the events that have unfolded, then you weren’t paying attention. The city of Louisville started boarding up businesses and mobilizing the police force and the national guard in preparation of this verdict. Something they could only have known if they knew how the case was presented to the grand jury. Daniel Cameron argued that the police used justifiable force once Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend started shooting at them. But if I’m asleep in my bed at 12:30am and someone breaks down my door don’t I have the right to defend myself? He was never going to present the case with the facts because he was biased already and has bigger dreams in his sights.
I write these words with a heavy heart because I live in a world that values pieces of me as a Black woman, but doesn’t see the whole. To all my beautiful Black people, this is dedicated to you. I honor you today and always. We are stronger than we could ever imagine. Breonna, we will never stop fighting for you. You deserve so much more.