On the one hand it’s perfectly understandable that law enforcement might not want to give the miscreant the opportunity to flush the evidence before it can be found, or to arm himself so he can go down fighting. But on the other hand, if someone breaks down your door without announcing himself as a police officer, and, whether with a licensed firearm or not, you shoot him as he comes across the threshold, if I’m on the jury you have an absolute right to self-defence.
The policeman, on the other hand, does not. Why? Because he’s knowingly placed himself in a position in which that defence can be rightly invoked. This is why no-knock warrants should be outlawed. They place law enforcement personnel in far too vulnerable a position. The fact that no-knock warrants were legal at the time changes nothing in this analysis. If you put me in fear of my life you forfeit your right to yours.
But hang on. The officer who killed Breonna Taylor was also in fear of his life. But unlike the inhabitants of the apartment, he had ample opportunity to retreat. Had he done so he would not have been in fear of his life. So if I’m on the jury he’s guilty of at least negligent homicide.
When the state, in full possession of these facts – which apparently are not in dispute – fails to prosecute, it doesn’t thereby make itself party to the murder. Why not? Because it would be irresponsible to squander prosecutorial resources on a trial it anticipates will not produce a conviction. The fault, if fault there be, therefore lies with the jury that was never convened.
In a sense it was on behalf of that jury that the state of Kentucky did away with no-knock warrants and paid the Taylor family $12,000,000. Apparently a human life is not priceless. Good to know if you’re an insurance adjuster.