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The Breonna Taylor Murder Prompts the NMA to Speak Out

Sojourner’s Truth Staff

The National Medical Association, the nation’s oldest organization of African-American physicians and born of the issue that Black Americans face health challenges, especially public health challenges, in greater numbers than their white counterparts, has taken the stance that “violence is a significant public health issue,” says Dr. Mallory Williams, MD, “even violence perpetrated by the state.”

In response to the recent instances of police violence and murders of African Americans, particularly the recent grand jury decision in Louisville, KY, absolving the police of responsibility in the murder of Breonna Taylor, the NMA has issued a statement, co-authored by Dr. Williams, decrying that decision.

Dr. Mallory Williams, MD

Dr. Williams, a trauma surgeon, professor at Howard University College of Medicine and Toledo resident, is the co-chairman of the NMA’s Gun Task Force, which was formed to be “helpful to those impacted by unnecessary force,” he says. The Task Force has been particularly active since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the ensuing highly-publicized police shootings.

Now comes the Breonna Taylor shooting and the recent grand jury decision not to pursue charges for what the police did to Taylor, only for what happened to a surrounding apartment. Dr. Williams notes that there are three critical issues that need greater examination.

First, “at the time of the entry, was there a legitimate warrant in place?” asks Dr. Williams. He mentions that at any given time of such a search and entry, the validity of warrants can change.

Second, “When the boyfriend was arrested, what was the conversation that allowed him to be released without being charged?” The puzzle here, for Dr. Williams, is that if the officers were not charged for any wrongdoing in the Taylor apartment, then the boyfriend logically must have been in the wrong for shooting a police officer who was presumably lawfully carrying out his duties.

Third, how was it a “mistake” to shoot Breonna Taylor six times? Once, perhaps, is a mistake. Twice could even be a mistake. Six times?

As a result of the shooting, the following is the NMA statement that Dr. Williams co-authored.

The National Medical Association Statement on the Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Decision

The National Medical Association (NMA) shares in the anger and distress felt by communities of color over a grand jury’s decision not to indict police who killed Breonna Taylor. Once again, the grand jury system has failed to value the life of an African American. Local jurisdictions continue to show their inability to independently investigate and prosecute, when indicated, cases of law enforcement use of excessive and unnecessary force. The NMA calls for independent investigations in all instances of police shootings and calls for the Department of Justice to evaluate the Breonna Taylor case.

The National Medical Association proudly stands with most Americans in affirming that Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. She was a cherished family member. As a technician in the emergency department she spent her life caring for others in need including members of the law enforcement community. Her life came to a premature end after an unnecessary and unprovoked encounter with police in her home.

The unfortunate reality is that Breonna Taylor is dead most likely because she lived in a community where the families of the judges who issue No-Knock Warrants and the police who execute them do not live. To disregard the set of discriminatory circumstances that make Breonna Taylor’s death a reality is to ignore the structural racism that so many African Americans die as a result of daily. It is this systemic racism deeply embedded both in our legal and law enforcement systems that allows African-Americans to be too often excluded from well-established police protocols and judicial precedents while often being subjected to arbitrary and capricious behavior.

The NMA supports the Department of Justice’s clarification of the police execution of No Knock Warrants which says, “…such a warrant does not entitle officers to disregard reliable information clearly negating the existence of exigent circumstances when they actually receive such information before execution of the warrant.”

The NMA supports Breonna Taylor’s 4th Amendment rights to be secure in her home and supports the Supreme Court’s extensive history of legal regard for an individual’s domicile enshrined in the words, “the overriding respect for the sanctity of the home that has been embedded in our traditions since the origins of the Republic.”

Breonna Taylor not only died but she did so without receiving immediate health care for her gunshot wounds. She was not given the care that she spent her life giving to others. The NMA rejects the formal notion that there is no accountability for the death of Breonna Taylor and asks the Department of Justice to evaluate the case.

The NMA also supports the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and asks the members of United States Congress to pass the legislation.

The NMA is the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients in the United States. As the collective voice of African American physicians and the leading force for parity and justice in medicine; the NMA has long asserted police excessive use of force as a public health issue and has published both a position statement on police excess use of force and a position paper on urban violence in minority communities. The organization is committed to addressing issues of social determinants, structural violence and systemic racism that fosters an environment that leads to the disproportionate policing of communities of color.



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/01/20 10:51:05 -0400.

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