Former Suffolk County Sheriff and Secretary of Public Safety Andrea Cabral, speaking on Boston Public Radio Thursday, called Wednesday’s ruling by a Kentucky grand jury on the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death unsurprising, but “deeply, deeply frustrating.”
"Five minutes ago, I really seriously thought that my entire segment today would be one giant primal scream, just for 25 minutes,” she said, half-jokingly. “‘Cause that’s pretty much how I feel.”
After more than 100 days with near-constant protests throughout the country, the Louisville grand jury indicted just one of the police officers involved in the March 13 shooting of Taylor, a 26-year-old medical technician who was killed in her apartment during a botched “no-knock” raid. That officer, Brett Hankison, who was fired from the force in June, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for allegedly firing rounds that entered a neighboring apartment.
None of the three officers were charged with killing Taylor.
“The fact that they took that level of risk to barge in, not knowing who lived there, not knowing whether or not the target actually lived there, and not knowing whether or not anybody had a firearm — a valid firearm license — and may have possessed a firearm … to me, those failures alone are grossly negligent, and should’ve at least resulted in a negligent homicide charge,” Cabral said.
Last week, the city of Louisville, Ky., reached an agreement with Taylor’s family, which included a $12 million settlement and several reforms to the city’s police department, including changes to policies around obtaining and executing search warrants.
“If you’re saying that now, warrants have to be signed off by a police supervisor, and you’re putting all these other things in place, it’s because something didn’t happen in this particular instance,” Cabral said, implying a recognition of fault on the part of Louisville's police department.
The former Suffolk County sheriff went further, condemning the U.S. justice system for existing, as described it, “to protect white supremacy.”
"At this point, honestly, in 2020, with just the legions of people who have died at the hands of police nationally, what is the reason for not doing it?” she asked, referring to systemic structures that would hold police accountable for instances of excessive violence. "What reason do you articulate for not being able to get this done? What non-political reason is any elected official able to articulate for not getting this done?”
Cabral’s frustrations were echoed in an earlier interview on Thursday's Boston Public Radio with Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins. "We failed her,” Rollins said of the Wednesday ruling. "There’s just a feeling there are multiple criminal justice systems, and if you’re Black or poor or Latinx, it doesn’t work the same for you as it does for others. And that is just a really hard thing to say out loud.”
Cabral is the former sheriff of Suffolk County, former secretary of public safety, and CEO of Ascend.
GBH News' Zoe Mathews contributed to this report.