It was inevitable. Given the particulars of the case, the understandably high emotions it raised and the presumption of innocence inherent to our justice system, there was no way some of Louisville wasn't going to burn once the Grand Jury results in the Breonna Taylor shooting were made public.
The only question was how bad it was going to be. You could see it in the eyes of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron yesterday afternoon as he carefully detailed the Grand Jury process in his state, announced the results and asked for restraint in people's reactions. He knew things were going to turn bad and was doing what little he could to keep from making them worse.
It is entirely possible to be right on the facts, right under the law -- and wrong on emotions. The powerful emotional reactions of masses of outraged people are why we have a justice system, why that system is supposed to presume the innocence of the accused, and why there is so much emphasis on procedure, eyewitness testimony and such facts as can be determined. At each step of the process, the outcome isn't supposed to be emotionally satisfying; it's supposed to be the least unfair result mortal men and women can produce.
Sometimes that result feels very unfair to many people. Sometimes it looks particularly unfair in the wider view. But criminal proceedings are not about the wide view, nor ought they take account of public opinion. Fixing guilt and fixing society are very different things.
And in the gap between them, Louisville burns. The time to stop that was long before three policeman knocked on Breonna Taylor's door and then knocked it in.
(Wikipedia, though sometimes shaky in documenting this kind of situation, has links to multiple Louisville Courier Journal articles covering the case as it developed. It's a complex and tragic farrago of errors.)
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