Do we have a right to a well-trained police force? The question is one we should be discussing in the wake of two recent developments in the 2020 shooting death of Breonna Taylor: last week’s announcement that the federal investigation has led to indictments against four police officers, and the less publicized decision by a federal judge in late July to dismiss most of the lawsuit filed by Taylor’s neighbor, whose apartment was hit by the fusillade of bullets fired that night. Although the indictments are understandably the bigger story, the neighbor’s lawsuit might also point the way toward avoiding such tragedies in the future.
Taylor was killed when officers broke down the door of her apartment based on false (possibly fabricated) information that drugs were being delivered to her address. Her boyfriend, unaware that the intruders were police, fired what he described as a warning shot. In response, the officers discharged 32 rounds, wounding the boyfriend and killing Taylor. A state inquiry was justifiably criticized for its leniency toward the officers involved; the subsequent federal investigation has now borne fruit.