Q&A: Dwayne Bryant talks Breonna Taylor, moving forward

Austin Hannon, Contributing Writer

Seven months ago, Louisville police officers used a battering ram to enter a woman’s apartment. Her name was Breonna Taylor.

The police were serving a warrant as part of a drug investigation in which one suspect had been in a previous relationship with Taylor. Police officers, believing Taylor had evidence in her apartment, forcefully entered her apartment.

Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker were asleep. Walker, who has since said that he thought the intruders could have been a threat to him and his girlfriend, fired a single shot towards the door and made contact with a Louisville police officer. The four officers on the scene then responded by shooting off several rounds randomly into the apartment, shooting Taylor several times.

An ambulance responded to the scene, first lending aid to the fallen officer. By the time they reached Taylor, she was already presumed dead.

That was March 13, around midnight. Months of protests and calls for social justice all around the country and the world followed. Even seven months later, the fight for equality continues.

An influential voice in that fight is Dwayne Bryant, a police accountability expert known for his commentary on police-community relations. Bryant, who is also a speaker and educator, has written a book on the subject and appeared as an expert across many news outlets, from CNN to “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

On the circumstances of Taylor’s death, Bryant was clear. It was a critical failure of policing.

“The police had already arrested Breonna Taylor’s ex-boyfriend… I believe that there was no introduction of police at the door,” Bryant said. “The police then lied. On the police report, they said that there was no harm done. Six bullets in a body is a little bit of harm. In her case, she died, that’s a lot of harm.”

One of the more tragic parts of the story is just how avoidable it could have been, Bryant said.

“Since you already had in custody the guy, they were looking for… You could have waited until morning, and arrested Breonna on the way to her car, where there’s a very minimal chance of loss of life,” Bryant said.

When asked why the good police officers nationwide don’t hold the handful of poor officers accountable, Bryant had a couple of points. 

“On one hand, there’s not enough leadership from the law-abiding officers, and on the other, there’s a real brotherhood to the police force, and they will back each other no matter what the case is,” Bryant said. 

Bryant, whose father was once a police officer, said that the way to curate well-trained strong police forces was to get them involved in their community right off the bat. He thinks that it is important for officers to know the people in their community because “the police are a reflection of the community.”

Bryant expounded on how we can move forward as a nation to come together and end this social unrest.

“We have to understand there is one race, the human race,” Bryant said. “It’s not about Black, it’s not about white. And if America can get there, or at least the majority of Americans can get there we can then begin to have the reforms that we need. [It isn’t as if I] look at you as a white guy, so I can’t protect you. If you are getting beaten up by three Black guys, I’m going to jump in and ask, “‘Why are you messing with him?’”

Overall, Bryant said, the country has a lot of progress to make after a long history of backwards policies.

“America has to be better than she has been for the last 400 years,” said Bryant. 

Listen to the full interview here.