Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

I  laughed out loud watching Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron on TV as he announced the grand jury’s decision to not indict the three Louisville police officers who had entered Breonna Taylor’s apartment and shot her to death, firing six bullets into her body.

I laughed because the whole thing seemed comical. The whole charade of justice and the pursuit of facts, not emotions masqueraded the fact that the state’s highest law enforcement officer belched out on the national media. A cop, who was selected to speak at the recent Republican national convention and happened to be Black, skillfully overlaid the dirty underbelly of the American justice system. In doing so, he affirmed the two different and distinct methods of applying the law, one for the law enforcement, and the other for Black and Brown people, other minorities and similar unfortunates.

For Breonna Taylor’s family, his message was crystal clear: nothing to see here folks, the shooting of your daughter was justified. 

The whole sham of it makes me laugh. I’ve grown wiser over the years, and I have seen the reality of pain, sorrow, and disappointment. Knowing so much hardship and experiencing the rigors of the American justice system’s gnawing grind, it has become all too easy for me to see.

In the end, that is what comedy is all about: tragedy over time.

During his long press conference, Cameron insisted that he was driven by facts and that he kept emotions out of it. Yet, his colloquy reminded me of something that Maya Angelou once said: “There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure truth.”

The truth of the matter is that facts can be manipulated as is often the case when police officers are involved in any sort of wrongdoing. Because when it comes to the law enforcement, all bets are off, and they are given every possible avenue and benefit that the law can provide. For the others, well, they are referred to as others for a reason.

I still have vivid memories of receiving my grand jury transcripts. I sat on my bunk in the cell on the infamous D-Block, D5W, of the Hudson County Correctional Facility, wondering if this was a joke. The prosecutor had presented select items to my grand jury while eliminating anything that could be considered mitigating. I was dumbfounded because much of it was fabrication and lies by officers, who took an oath to tell the truth before falsely testifying.

I begged my attorney to challenge the indictment. Her response was that “we will fight at trial” and that the “grand jury stuff is useless.” She said it didn’t matter because “they can indict a ham sandwich if they wanted to.”

True indeed. Cameron could also have indicted the three officers involved in Breonna’s death, but top cops don’t go after their own “ham.”

The grand jury process in the United States is a mockery and travesty of justice. In these secret, closed door proceedings, the prosecutor can present anything that he sees fit. They are literally allowed to cherry pick the evidence and narrative of their own choosing.

Cameron discarded the testimony of Breonna’s immediate neighbor and the corroborating statements of other witnesses. Instead, he relied on the account of a single White witness that was provided after two previous contradicting statements. That speaks volumes about the attorney general’s intentions.

The problem is that our society has subcontracted our conscience and objectivity when it comes to minorities. Our conscience and objectivity only comes alive when a police officer is involved in an incident such as Breonna’s death. All care is poured into his defense and then the public is reassured that all is well and that the system is working. 

But if the system only works for the select few with badges and fails the millions who are behind bars, then what sort of a problem do you see?

Cameron ended his press conference with the words, “God Bless.” I was stunned. This man, who stood before the national media, couldn’t bring himself to just say her name. 


Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Tariq MaQbool is a writer incarcerated in New Jersey. He maintains Captive Voices, a blog where he shares his poetry and essays as well as the writings of other incarcerated people. His work has been published in The Marshall Project, NJ Star Ledger, Slant'd magazine and The News Station.