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Breonna Taylor’s Mother Demands Justice In Appeal To Jo Biden To Investigate Her Murder

Update December 21, 2020

Breonna Taylor’s death has sparked nationwide outrage as Americans demand justice. One officer was indicted recently for wanton endangerment for firing his gun into apartments. Two other officers involved were not indicted and now members of the grand jury overseeing the case are speaking out about their experience. Earlier in October, one juror accused the Kentucky attorney general of misrepresenting the jury’s deliberations leading to the indictment and more recently another one of the grand jurors who heard evidence in the Taylor probe is speaking out.

Breonna Taylor‘s mother called on President-elect Joe Biden to open a federal investigation into the death of her daughter and other Black people who have been killed by police.

Last Tuesday, Tamika Palmer expressed her desire to see Biden hold police officers accountable. ‘We fought for you. It is now your turn to fight for us,’ says Tamika Palmer.

“Your campaign’s stated commitment to prioritize police accountability prompted so many of us to vote this year,” Palmer explained in the ad. “For many Americans, a vote for you was a vote for Breonna, Jacob Blake, Casey Goodson and so many others who have been failed repeatedly by the criminal justice system under the current administration.”

In a statement released in October one of the jurors stated that the grand jury never received a request to consider murder charges against the Louisville police officers.

 According to The New York Times, “Grand Juror #1” claimed that the grand jury did not agree that Taylor’s fatal shooting was justified.

The anonymous juror is represented by their lawyer Kevin Glogower and claims that the only charge presented was wanton endangerment.

“Questions were asked about the additional charges and the grand jury was told there would be none because the prosecutors didn’t feel they could make them stick,” the statement read. “The grand jury didn’t agree that certain actions were justified, nor did it decide the indictment should be the only charges in the Breonna Taylor case,” the statement adds.

“The grand jury did not have homicide offenses explained to them,” the anonymous juror went onto explain. “The grand jury never heard about those laws. “Self-defense or justification was never explained either.”

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron faced backlash earlier this month after allegations that he misrepresented the facts of what happened at the hearing.

A grand jury member came forward recently and accused the AG Cameron of misrepresenting what happened during the hearing. The juror filed a motion with the courts to release the full transcript of the hearings to the public to provide transparency into what happened in that courtroom.

The attorney for the unnamed juror is arguing that the jurors should be allowed to speak publicly about the proceedings. The attorney, Kevin Glogower, told his client to wait until a court gives permission for the jurors to speak out publicly about the matter. According to The New York Times, a spokeswoman for the AG’s office stated that the officer has no issue with jurors speaking publicly.

“While there are six possible homicide charges under Kentucky law, these charges are not applicable to the facts before us because our investigation showed — and the grand jury agreed — that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon,” Cameron said during a news conference.

However, the anonymous juror has made it known that the jury was never given an option in charging Sgt. Jon Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, who shot and killed Taylor. Cameron only left the jury the option to indict Detective Brett Hankison, who was fired earlier this year.

Cameron originally resisted calls from Louisville’s mayor, Kentucky’s governor, and Taylor’s family’s attorney to release the recording of the proceedings. He eventually caved and agreed to release the recordings to the public.

After months of nationwide outrage and protest, a Kentucky grand jury has indicted one of the police officer involved in Breonna Taylor’s death. Taylor’s death set off nationwide protests against police brutality and the health crisis of unarmed Black people being killed by police.

Over 20 hours of audio recording of the grand jury inquiry into the police killing of Breonna Taylor was released to the public last Friday.

Following pressure from the public, and demands for justice the tapes were released last Friday. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron called the recordings a “complete picture of the events” that took place on the night of her murder. Cameron went onto state that jurors overseeing the case were told that the officers involved had responded in a way that was congruent with police practices.

Among the witness interviews and testimonies heard by the jurors, were statements made by Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who told investigators that he had been “scared to death” when he first heard banging on the front door on the night police killed his girlfriend.

According to the tapes, Walker asserted that when he asked who was at the door that night, no one responded. This is despite the fact that the officers claimed that they announced themselves multiple times before breaking down the door.

Other recordings presented to the grand jury, included almost over a dozen of interviews from Taylor’s neighbors about the events that took place. The tapes underscored claims that only one of the neighbors said that they heard the police identify themselves.

In the tapes, Walker asserted that after he and Taylor put their clothes on and left their room Taylor asked: “at the top of her lungs” who was banging on the door. It was then that the officers broke the door down. Walker fired a single shot out of the front door which hit Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly in the leg. “All of a sudden, there’s a whole lot of shots,” Walker claimed. “They’re just shooting, like, we’re both on the ground.” He added, “Next thing I know, she’s on the ground and the door’s busted open and I hear a bunch of yelling and just panicking.” 

One officer involved with Breonna Taylor’s death has been indicted by a grand jury.

The grand jury indicted former police officer Brett Hankison for wanton endangerment for firing his gun into three neighboring apartments. The indictment does not include Hankison firing his weapon into Taylor’s apartment. The two other officers involved with the shooting death of Taylor, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not indicted.

“The result of your action seriously impedes the Department’s goal of providing the citizens of our city with the most professional law enforcement agency possible,” then Police Chief Robert Schroeder wrote when terminating Hankison more than three months after Taylor’s death. “I cannot tolerate this type of conduct by any member of the Louisville Metro Police Department. Your conduct demands your termination.”

Many consider the news a step in the right direction but for many it is not enough.

Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician, was killed when police executed a no-knock warrant and broke into her home while she was sleeping. The police had the wrong address and opened fire on Taylor when they saw her. Her boyfriend fired his gun in response and was arrested that night. Taylor was killed on March 13, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic that she was helping to combat.

Police in several cities and states are on standby following the decision to monitor the public’s response. Police chiefs in several cities are prepared to unrest as a result of the indictment news.

Updated September 15, 2020.

Seven months after a botched no-knock raid killed 26-year-old EMT worker Breonna Taylor, her family is finally experiencing some sort of reckoning over an event that was utterly inexplicable. This week, her family agreed to a $12 million settlement with the city of Louisville. The settlement also includes a massive change to policing in the city including the mandatory use of body cameras on police raids.

The family’s wrongful death lawsuit is the largest in Louisville’s history. The settlement tops a previous one in 2012 in which a man wrongly convicted of a crime and sent to prison for nine years was awarded $8.5 million.

The settlement does not mean that the open investigation on the shooting, or the potential for criminal charges against the officers involved, is over.

To date, only Brett Hankinson (one out of three officers involved) has been fired. The other two remain on administrative leave.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the Taylor family’s attorney Anita Baker stated that “It’s important for her family to minimize the risk of what happened to Breonna Taylor from happening to any other family in Louisville, Kentucky, and we’re going to continue the fight beyond Louisville.”

Allegations of sexual assault have been raised against Officer Brett Hankison, one of the three white officers accused of fatally shooting Breonna Taylor on March 13.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician was an aspiring nurse from Louisville, Ky. She was shot by police when they were taking part in a search warrant at the wrong apartment. The three officers involved in the shooting have not yet been charged with Taylor’s death but it’s Hankison who might be facing additional charges outside of the case.

Allegations against Hankison were raised earlier this summer by two women on social media.

According to People.com, Louisville Metro Police has reached out to the women in regards to their allegations to allow the department’s Public Integrity Unit to “initiate and conduct an investigation.”

Hankinson’s role in the death of Taylor has (along with the murder of George Floyd) sparked protests across the country.

Hankinson and the two other officers ( Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove) involved were placed on administrative leave following her death. It is now up to the department to investigate their actions. Renewed scrutiny of Hankinon’s history as an officer will hopefully influence his case. After all, Hankinson is at the center of an ongoing civil lawsuit in federal court which, according to Courier-Journal accuses “him of unrelated unnecessary arrests and harassment of another man, which Hankison has denied.”

According to Louisville TV station WHAS, in that civil lawsuit, Kendrick Wilson describes Hankison as “a dirty cop with a vendetta.” Hankinson arrested Wilson three times between 2016 and 2018 each time at bars where Hankisonwas employed as off-duty security. In his lawsuit, Wilson alleged that he and Hankinson had interactions outside of those arrests, “including over a relationship with the same woman.”

Margo Borders is one of the woman who accused Hankinson of sexual assault in a post to her Facebook in April 2018.

In April of 2018 I went out to a bar with some friends. I went to call an uber home and a police officer who I had…

Posted by Margo Borders on Thursday, June 4, 2020

“A police officer who I had interacted with on many occasions at bars in St. Matthews offered me a ride home. He drove me home in uniform, in his marked car, invited himself into my apartment and sexually assaulted me while I was unconscious” Borders wrote in her claim. “I never reported him out of fear of retaliation. I had no proof of what happened and he had the upper hand because he was a police officer. Who do you call when the person who assaulted you is a police officer? Who were they going to believe? I knew it wouldn’t be me.” In her claim, Borders accused Hankinson by name.

In the second claim, a woman who identified herself as Emily Terry took to Instagram to report him last fall.

“I began walking home from a bar intoxicated. A police officer pulled up next to me and offered me a ride home. I thought to myself, ‘Wow. That is so nice of him.’ And willingly got in,” she explained. “He began making sexual advances towards me; rubbing my thigh, kissing my forehead, and calling me ‘baby.’ Mortified, I did not move. I continued to talk about my grad school experiences and ignored him. As soon as he pulled up to my apartment building, I got out of the car and ran to the back. My friend reported this the next day, and of course, nothing came from it.”

In response to questions about whether more formal complaints of Hankinson’s sexual harassment or sexual misconduct have been filed, his department said thatt they are still investigating the current complaints.

In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for the department said “We encourage anyone with direct information about this situation to contact us and share that information with an investigator at (502) 574-7144.”

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A Woman On TikTok Gave Her Followers Insight Into What It Feels Like To Be Paralyzed

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A Woman On TikTok Gave Her Followers Insight Into What It Feels Like To Be Paralyzed

Atsushi Tomura/Getty

In 2009, the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reported that almost 5.4 million people in the United States live with paralysis. Still, despite how common this is, few people understand the condition of paralysis and how it affects a person’s daily life. Twenty-two-year-old Jessica Tawil, of New Jersey, recently set out to explain the experience on TikTok last year.

Since her first post in November, the TikToker has garnered over 1 million followers with content that focuses on her experience of being paralyzed from the waist down.

In a post shared on her TikTok page, Tawil explained an exercise that might give people a chance to understand the sensation of being paraplegic.

@jesstawil

#foryoupage #fyp #foryou #whatilearned #stemlife #needtoknow #weekendvibes #bekind #spinalcordinjury #productivity #disability #medical #paralyzed

♬ Epic Emotional – AShamaluevMusic

In a post shared on her TikTok page, Tawil shared an exercise with her followers that demonstrates how it feels to not be able to move a ligament. In this case, it’s your finger. According to Buzzfeed, Tawil came across the exercise after looking through posts related to disabilities. “I remember feeling so blown away because my legs felt the exact same way as my finger did,” she said.

“Not many people know too much about paraplegics and their capabilities, so I wanted to be that light to inform, educate, and even entertain people,” Tawil explained to BuzzFeed. “I want people to know what it’s like to be paralyzed … so that they can be a little bit more appreciative of what they have and remain humble.”

Tawil’s video demonstration currently has over 12 million views.

Tawil explained that a kidnapping and car accident led to her paralysis when she was in her teens.

Tawil explained that the accident took place on Nov. 15, 2014, when she went to a friend’s house in high school. When she arrived, Tawil discovered that men were present and instantly felt uncomfortable when she further learned that they had brought drugs and alcohol.

“When I eventually asked them to take me home, they took me to an abandoned road instead. When we got to this road, the driver stopped the car and put his foot on the gas and brake at the same time, doing a burnout with his wheels. He lost control of the car and crashed into a tree,” Tawil explained. “It was at this moment that I got whiplash, split my head open to the point where my skull was exposed, and sustained a spinal cord injury — leaving me paralyzed the moment we crashed,” she said. “Paramedics said that I lost the equivalence of a ‘Coca-Cola bottle of blood’ out of my head, and didn’t think I’d make it if they drove me to the hospital. So they drove me to a nearby soccer field where a helicopter airlifted me to the ICU. From there on, I went through seven months of rehab and remained permanently paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.”

Speaking about her injury, Tawil says she was “robbed of my ability to use the bathroom normally (I depend on catheters and enemas).”

Sadly Tawil says her experience led to her reclusiveness and weariness to trust others. Still, she finds that her disability comes with positives. “On the positive side, I have become a lot more spiritual and grateful to have been given another chance at life,” she told BuzzFeed. “My accident has emphasized the fact that we are not promised tomorrow, and that we should always be grateful for the simplest things in life… I also want to show people how I live my life in the present day — what is life like as a wheelchair user? — and devote my channel to being a blog where people can get to know me on a lot more of a personal level.”

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Black Class Is Back! Kamala Harris Wore Monochrome For Sonia Sotomayor Swearing-In Ceremony

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Black Class Is Back! Kamala Harris Wore Monochrome For Sonia Sotomayor Swearing-In Ceremony

ANDREW HARNIK / Getty

As of Wednesday morning, Kamala Harris is officially the 49th vice president of the United States. The historic moment, which saw Harris become the first American vice president to be of Black and South Asian descent is also notable because she is the first woman vice president to hold office. Sworn in on Inauguration Day by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and welcomed in by the bells of her alma mater Howard University, the day was packed full of color, power, and (for the first time in years!) class.

Check out the most poignant moments of the inauguration below.

Harris Wore An Inauguration Outfit By A Queer Black designer

Looking royal in an all-purple ensemble designed by queer black designer Christopher John Rogers Harris kept things simple and elegant in an A-line, deep violet coat, and a matching dress. The monochrome outfit has drawn comparisons to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s inauguration outfit and seemed to lead the way with other outfits worn that day by Jill Biden, Jennifer Lopez, and Michelle Obama. The bold look was more than just a fashion statement however, it was also a massive show of support of Black and Queer people.

Amanda Gorman delivered a poem that made her the youngest inauguration poet ever

Twenty-two-year-old Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in history on Wednesday. Sharing her poem “The Hill We Climb” Gorman spoke to the world about rebuilding our future. “We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace … We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,” she read. “Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy … So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with … we’ll raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.”

Harris was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

In another historic moment, while becoming the first woman vice president and the first person of color to hold that office, Harris was sworn in on Inauguration Day by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Harris was nominated to her position by President Barack Obama in 2009 and became the first Latino member of the Court.

Howard University honored Harris with 49 bell tolls and the ‘Black national anthem’

Harris was escorted to the inauguration ceremony by the university’s marching band, the Showtime Marching Band.

“Throughout her career, the vice president-elect has carried her Howard education with her, ensuring that she adhere to truth and service and inspiring her to achieve unprecedented levels of excellence,” Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said ahead of the ceremony. “It is perfectly fitting that the Showtime Marching Band, the ensemble that captures and reverberates the heartbeat of our institution, should accompany her on this last leg of her journey to the White House.”

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