Breonna Taylor May Get Justice—Thanks to President Biden | Opinion

The Department of Justice believes the shooting death of Breonna Taylor was predicated on a lie. Four former police officers from Louisville, Kentucky were charged on Thursday in connection with Taylor's death. The police officers are accused of having falsified the affidavit used to get the search warrant that led to Taylor's death, which violated federal civil rights laws, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Thursday.

If the officers are in fact guilty of the lie they stand accused of, their lie robbed a family of a loved one and it robbed a community of a valued member, one who assisted in saving lives as an Emergency Medical technician.

This case demonstrates why we need fair and impartial oversight from the Justice Department, and why that's key to racial justice and institutional accountability.

Unfortunately, one side of the political aisle is not committed to providing that. Many local areas don't hold police accountable for not telling the truth on police reports or affidavits, and qualified immunity makes civil suits in these cases very difficult. Democrats in Congress tried to get rid of qualified immunity in their police reform bills, but Republicans have remained staunch in their support of it.

And yet, the cases abound in which the cops are caught out lying.

Breonna Taylor
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 30: A photo of Breonna Taylor is seen among other photos of women who have lost their lives as a result of violence during the 2nd Annual Defend Black Women March. Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Frontline Action Hub

Garland said the officers in Breonna Taylor's case knew "they lacked probable cause for the search" and that the affidavit they submitted contained "false and misleading" information. The officers are also accused of lying to investigators.

Their raid targeted Jamarcus Glover, an ex-boyfriend of Taylor's who was suspected of running a drug operation out of a house 10 miles away from Taylor's. Moreover, Taylor was no longer involved with Glover at the time of the shooting; she had since moved on and begun a relationship with a man named Kenneth Walker, who was present at the time of the police raid. In their affidavit, the officers claimed that Glover was receiving packages at Taylor's home, though they knew that was untrue, according to the DOJ.

This case was another reminder for Black people, and for Black women in particular, of the lack of support, mercy, and justice we are often afforded across the country.

Where are we supposed to turn when local jurisdictions deny justice to a segment of the population?

To the federal government, which is supposed to enter and defend the Constitution. When nine school children in Little Rock, Arkansas were denied access to Central High School, it was federal intervention that allowed for them to attend the school. It was federal intervention that challenged housing discrimination like redlining and restrictive covenants that locked generations of Black people out of building wealth.

Today, the DOJ stepped in to grant justice to Breonna Taylor. And we should be clear about why: because of President Biden.

For Black people who are frustrated with the present administration, I understand. But this case that demands accountability for alleged police misconduct would have never come to pass under a Trump Department of Justice. The Trump DOJ under the leadership of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who allegedly once called the NAACP "unAmerican" and was opposed by Dr. King's widow, rolled back consent decrees meant to foster trust between Black communities and the police by demanding accountability from the latter.

We need the DOJ to be the backstop to get justice when localities and their officials around the country fail us. It won't bring Breonna Taylor back so she can continue serving her community and loving her family and start a family of her own. What it may do is make police officers think twice before lying and creating dangerous situations.

That will depend on the identity of the DOJ, which is dependent upon who is in the White House and in Congress.

Dr. Jason Nichols is an award winning senior lecturer in the African American Studies Department at the University of Maryland College Park and was the longtime editor-in-chief of Words Beats & Life: The Global Journal of Hip-Hop Culture. He cohosts the "Vince and Jason Save the Nation" podcast.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.