They Use Victims' Rights Laws To Shield Themselves From Public Scrutiny

carthy harper lee speaking at a podium
Zain Murdock
October 24, 2023

On August 24, 2023, Ohio police shot 21-year-old Ta’Kiya Young as she sat in her car in a Kroger parking lot. Both Young and her unborn child died. But while we know Young’s name, we aren’t allowed to know the names of the officers. 

Because, according to a legal technicality, they’re “victims.”

In 1983, another 21-year-old was killed, this time by a jealous ex-boyfriend. Her name was Marsalee Nicholas, the eventual inspiration for Marsy’s Law. The law, pushed by Nicholas’ billionaire brother, was marketed to protect victims’ “dignity,” expanding the definition of victim to include loved ones. 

It also gives them rights, including: attending court hearings, receiving restitution, and refusing public identification.

Among other concerns with these kinds of victims’ rights laws is this question: who gets to be a victim in the first place? 

The officers responsible for Young’s death say they’re victims of automotive assault. Because when Young said her last words, “Are you going to shoot me?,” she turned her steering wheel, and her car began to move.

They aren’t the only officers to claim victimhood. But are police exploiting these laws? Or is the legal system inherently exploitative?

Either way, while these officers are allowed to live their lives in silence, unharmed, Young will never have that opportunity. And she, and her loved ones, deserve the right to justice.

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