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The Issue of Police Injustice in the United States

With the growth of the American population, the number of interactions between people also increases, which affects the number of crimes committed. To control such a vast country, people need multiple police officers able to maintain order. However, despite the long and high-quality training of law enforcement officers, there are a considerable number of problems in their actions. For example, it is essential to mention the issue of police brutality. They do not always evaluate their strength and cause irreparable harm to citizens. Another controversial issue is the existence of a no-knock warrant, which allows police officers to enter people’s houses without a demand. This may be necessary for certain situations but often violates civil rights. The purpose of this paper is to consider these two aspects of the activities of the police in the context of one of the latest cases related to it.

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Breonna Taylor Shooting

In March 2020, a tragic event led to the death of a black emergency medical technician, Breonna Taylor. According to newspaper descriptions, police were investigating a drug case and suspected that evidence could be found in Taylor’s house. To establish this fact, they came there with a no-knock warrant and broke into the apartment with the use of a battering ram. The police claim that they knocked and named themselves, but Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, assumes that he heard only aggressive hits on the door. The police broke into the apartment, Kenneth started shooting for self-defense since he thought that robbers broke into the house, and the police began to shoot back, which ended in the death of Breonna Taylor (Shapiro & Sullivan, 2020). This case is a vivid example of police brutality, which was not entirely justified.

It is important to note that the only clue that led police to suspect Taylor was her affiliation with the drug dealer’s ex-boyfriend. No drugs were found as a result of the raid, proving the killing to be unjust. Shapiro and Sullivan (2020) claim that “the earliest news stories covering her death didn’t mention her name at all, instead focusing on an injury to a police officer” (para. 20). The proceedings investigation by the Police Integrity Unit ignored requests for response and the need to prosecute the officers involved in the assassination. The initially issued press release indicated that, despite the fact that the police fired more than twenty times, Taylor allegedly received no injuries. No police recordings were made to prove police officers’ innocence or guiltiness. Thus, the injustice of the incident attracted the public’s attention, and many people across the country accuse the police of illegal actions.

Police Brutality

The first issue to examine in the accident of Breonna Taylor is the overarching problem of police brutality. According to Lovan (2020), police brutality can be defined as targeting racial minorities, unjustly criminalizing them, and using excessive force to convict them. The brutality of the police in the United States leads to severe and systematic human rights violations, causing a split in society. Police throughout the United States, without sufficient justification, use firearms, beat those arrested, use methods that produce them suffocation, and use unreasonably harsh physical measures. Systematically brutal police officers become the subject of complaints, but the silence of their colleagues and the lack of bias in internal police investigations makes them liable. A victim who demands satisfaction is faced with obstacles at every stage of this process. These include, for example, open intimidation and the reluctance of the prosecutor’s office to accept cases of unlawful use of force by the police. Violations of human rights continue, numerous obstacles prevent the prosecution of the guilty police officers, and this impunity allows them to keep the violence.

In the case of Breonna Taylor, police brutality is evident from the way the raid was executed. The police fired excessively prior to entering the building, which indicates that they were inclined to use unnecessary force without being directly threatened (Edgers, 2020). Another aspect of police brutality is the criminalization of black people in the justice system. The police had no evident reason to raid the house: Taylor and her partner were never convicted, and police suspected Taylor only because of her past relationship. While the police had no reasoning behind the warrant, the court still issued it, which showcases the lack of involvement and bias in the justice system. What stops police brutality from being prosecuted is the so-called “blue wall of silence” that comes from the government, police, and civilians who justify the violence to avoid a moral dilemma (Edgers, 2020). Factors like unnecessary force, legal system’s racial bias, and lack of exposure accumulated into police brutality that led to the assassination of Breonna Taylor.

There are many shortcomings of the modern police system, leading to brutality. First, this is the lack of effective methods of holding perpetrators accountable and informing citizens about such cases. Basically, to cover cases such as the death of Breonna Taylor, people use social networks, that is, they share known information among themselves. Second, in most cases, police officers do not investigate human rights violations, and the perpetrators avoid punishment. However, the fact that the police work for the government does not mean that they are always right and can avoid any punishment. This misbalance leads to a significant lack of social justice in this area. Third, there are numerous obstacles to the administration of justice. It includes corruption, biases, and other factors affecting the attitude of the government to citizens. Thus, to achieve real change, America needs reforms at all levels for each of these issues, but this is a complex and lengthy process.

No-Knock Warrants

Another major flaw in America’s modern police system is the existence of a no-knock warrant. It is a right given by the court to the police investigators to enter a suspect’s home without any warning to disrupt the criminal activity and uncover more evidence (Norwood, 2020). Undoubtedly, in some situations, it must be applied because it allows police to investigate serious crimes and not run into representatives of the criminal world. However, in cases like the assassination of Breonna Taylor, its use was not entirely legitimate. Even if drugs were kept in her apartment, this could have been investigated differently. Kenneth Walker, unlike the police officers, claims to have not heard them introduce themselves. As a consequence, he thought that a stranger was trying to break into the apartment (Oppel & Taylor, 2020). Obviously, with a more patient and calm approach, the police could have avoided the incident.

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A significant problem is a violation of human rights related to no-knock warrants. As Norwood (2020) stated, “Fourth Amendment, which protects people in the U.S. from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” has been chipped away at by these rulings, and has really no meaning anymore” (para. 21). This issue is prominent in Taylor’s case since the warrant was issued with no vetting, and the use of the no-knock procedure was entirely unjustified. It can be considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Research has shown that Black and Latino people are twice as likely to suffer from the no-knock warrant, which indicates an underlying racist tendency (Norwood, 2020). Thus, even with a no-knock warrant, police must consider the potential gravity of the crime and decide whether or not to use it.

Conclusion

Indeed, there are many problems in the activities of modern American police that raise questions and even protests among citizens. The most important of them is the frequent unlawful use of forces and capabilities. Undoubtedly, sometimes it is necessary because the police face terrible manifestations of the criminal world. However, in some cases, as in the situation with Breonna Taylor, forces should be distributed differently. Adequate attitude to their actions can help police to avoid many critical problems, including the killing of innocent citizens. Thanks to this, the level of confidence in the police among the population will increase. This will help to make the country safer and calmer, and people – more open and attentive to each other.

References

Shapiro, A., & Sullivan, B. (2020). As the nation chants her name, Breonna Taylor’s family grieves a life ‘robbed’. NPR. Web.

Edgers, G. (2020). Sick of the ‘blue code of silence,’ director Ava DuVernay starts an initiative to spotlight police brutality. The Washington Post. Web.

Norwood, C. (2020). The war on drugs gave rise to ‘no-knock’ warrants; Breonna Taylor’s death could end them. PBS. Web.

Oppel, R. A. Jr., & Taylor, D. B. (2020). Breonna Taylor’s death: What to know. The New York Times. Web.

Lovan, D. (2020). In new lawsuit, Breonna Taylor’s family argues louisville police had ‘no probable cause’ to raid her home. Time. Web.

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