Vice President Mike Pence said during Wednesday’s vice presidential debate that he has “trust” in “our justice system” in not charging any of the officers directly in the death of. The answer drew swift backlash on social media, including from rapper Megan Thee Stallion.
“Well, our heart breaks for the loss of any innocent American life, and the family of Breonna Taylor has our sympathies,” Pence said. “But I trust our justice system, a grand jury that refused the evidence.”
Moderator Susan Page of USA Today posed the same question to both Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence: In the case of, was justice done? Each candidate had two uninterrupted minutes to respond, and Pence’s answer drew swift backlash on social media.
Harris first answered the question, saying she does not believe justice was served. In addition to talking about Taylor, Harris also brought up George Floyd, who was killed in May after police officers in Minneapolis kneeled on is neck. “I am a former career prosecutor, I know what I am talking about, bad cops are bad for good cops. We need reform of our policing in America and our criminal justice system,” she said.
Taylor was shot and killed in her Louisville home when police officers executed a no-knock search warrant in March. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black female emergency technician, was shot several times and died before officers attempted to give her emergency aid, according to dispatch reports from the Louisville Courier-Journal.
More than six months after Taylor wasin her Louisville home, a grand jury indicted one officer in relation to shooting into her neighbor’s apartment — but no officers were charged for their role in Taylor’s death. Former officer Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment and two other officers who opened fire were not indicted.
During the debate, Pence said it was “remarkable” that as a former prosecutor, Harris “would assume that an impaneled grand jury looking at all the evidence got it wrong.”
“But, you’re entitled to your opinion senator,” Pence said.
“I think, look, with regard to George Floyd, there’s no excuse for what happened to George Floyd,” Pence continued. “And justice will be served. But there’s also no excuse for the rioting and looting that followed.”
Many people took to social media to criticized Pence’s response – including some high-profile Twitter users. “Pence’s response to the question ‘did Breonna Taylor receive justice’ was disgusting,” wrote Megan Thee Stallion.
The rapper has been critical of the way Taylor’s case was handled. During her “Saturday Night Live” performance last week, Megan spoke about protecting black women, and included a quote from Tamika Mallory, who criticized Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron for his handling of Taylor’s case, Entertainment Tonight reports.
Megan’s tweet about Pence’s answer quickly went viral, with more than 60,000 retweets in about two hours. She wasn’t the only person to criticized Pence on Wednesday night. Many people tweeted about their disappointment in his response.
“Breonna Taylor alive today, that’s what JUSTICE would look like,” wrote Representative Ayana Pressley.
“True justice for Breonna Taylor would mean Breonna Taylor is still alive today,” wrote University of California at Berkeley professor and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.
“Thank you @KamalaHarris for standing up for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and everyone else who has been victimized by police brutality,” wrote civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing both Taylor and Floyd’s families. “We are fighting together for equal justice under law. This is the time for leadership. We always must fight.”
While Pence’s belief that justice was served in the case drew backlash, some Twitter users did agree with him.
During the debate, Pence also rejected Harris’ belief that there is systemic racism in the criminal justice system, calling it a “great insult to the men and women who serve in law enforcement.”