ASHBURN | Through the first two games of the season, Dwayne Haskins has raised his fist during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. The small act followed Haskins’ actions from months earlier when the Washington quarterback attended the Black Lives Matter march in the District in June.
“It’s been Black Lives Matter my whole life,” he said then.
So on Wednesday, when Haskins found out that only one of the three Louisville police officers involved was charged in the aftermath of Breonna Taylor’s death — and that charge was for firing gunshots into neighboring apartments — the 23-year-old said the news was “really disgusting.”
In Kentucky, a grand jury indicted former officer Brett Hankison, who was fired in June, with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree, or firing irresponsibly. Hankison, nor or the other officers, were charged directly for Taylor’s death.
“It’s really disappointing because justice should be served for her death, Breonna Taylor, and this movement in general, Black Lives Matter, and understanding the neglect of not only Black people but colored people in general,” Haskins said. “The injustices and the police brutality and the systematic racism and everything of that nature, it’s bigger than just sports or politics or the color of your skin. It’s about how you treat people.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical worker, died in March when she was shot after officers executed a “no-knock” warrant for her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Taylor was shot six times after gunfire broke out between Walker and the police. Walker has said that he fired in fear of an intruder, while Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the officers’ deadly force was justifiable self-defense.
Taylor’s death has become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. Protesters chanted “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” and called for police reform. In sports, many athletes spoke out about the case, and as a league, the WNBA had teams wear jerseys with “Breonna Taylor” stitched across the back.
Wednesday’s decision was greeted with disbelief by many in the sports world. NBA center DeMarcus Cousins tweeted the charge was a “slap on the wrist for MURDER.” Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, who played college basketball at the University of Louisville, tweeted he was at a loss for words and was praying for the city.
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr called the news “demoralizing,” asking if this was the country that people should want to live in. Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson said it was “crazy.”
New York Liberty guard Layshia Clarendon tweeted the police needed to be defunded and ultimately abolished.
“We time and time again hope for a sliver of justice but why would we get that when the system is designed to protect the very folks that are murdering and terrorizing us,” she tweeted. “This isn’t a bad apple, it’s a rotten tree.”
Washington coach Ron Rivera also weighed in on the grand jury’s decision.
Over the past few months, Rivera has challenged his players to brainstorm ways to make an impact in their community. In August, the team canceled practice and discussed social justice issues in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He also had the team meet in May weeks after George Floyd’s death.
On Wednesday, Rivera referenced the “Breonna Taylor pact,” a $12 million settlement from the city of Louisville to Taylor’s family as well as a number of changes to how police obtain and execute search warrants.
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