African American celebrities have joined those urging that the officers be charged
194 days after Breannor Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical worker, was shot six times by officers who entered her home using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation, an indictment has been announced.
One of the three police officers involved in the Louisville drug operation that led to the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26 year old EMT in March 2020 has been indicted on criminal charges.
Officer Brett Hankison, who was fired in June, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree, as decided by a Jefferson County grand jury on Wednesday. Neither the grand jury nor the presiding judge provided elaborations on the charges. According to local reports, a warrant was issued for Hankison’s arrest and he was booked and released on $15,000 bail.
No charges were announced against the two other officers involved in the raid; Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Johnathan Mattingly, who was shot in the leg and underwent surgery after the police operation that resulted in Taylor’s death.
Authorities found that the bullets fired by Hankison traveled into the neighboring apartment while the occupants were home; a male, a pregnant female, and a child, Attorney General Daniel Cameron said at a press conference after the grand jury’s announcement. Hankinson was not charged in Taylor’s death, but rather for endangering her neighbors’ lives
Hankinson faces up to five years on each of three counts if convicted, Cameron said.
“The decision before my office as the special prosecutor, in this case, was not to decide if the loss of Ms. Taylor’s life was a tragedy. The answer to that is unequivocally, ‘yes,'” Cameron said. “I understand that Breonna Taylor’s death is part of a national story, but the facts and evidence in this case are different than others…“If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice,” Cameron said. “Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”
Gov. Beshear began his daily news conference on Wednesday by calling on Cameron to publicly release the facts and evidence that had been presented to the grand jury.
“I believe that the public deserves this information,” Beshear said. “So I previously made what I would call a suggestion to the attorney general, and now I’m making the request that he post online all the information, evidence and facts that he can release without impacting the three felony counts in the indictment issued today.”
He noted that other jurisdictions had similarly released details about high-profile cases.
“Everyone can and should be informed,” he said. “And those that are currently feeling frustration, feeling hurt, they deserve to know more.”
The details that have been released paint a chaotic entry into Taylor’s home by the officers. Despite executing a no-knock warrant, Cameron’s office said that the officers did announce themselves before busting down the door of the apartment occupied by Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.
According to Kenneth Walker, he believed someone was breaking in,thus he allegedly opened fire. He was initially accused of the attempted murder of a police officer, but local prosecutors dropped the charge. He told police he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defense.
Cameron said Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified under Kentucky law in their use of force after being fired upon by Walker and as such, his office will not pursue criminal charges against them.
“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves. This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death,” Cameron said.
The grand jury’s decision prompted hundreds of protesters to turn out in Louisville, and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said he was authorizing the deployment of the state’s National Guard in the city, albeit in a limited capacity aimed at protecting infrastructure and not facing crowds of demonstrators. Large crowds of protesters began to march outside the barricaded zone set up by police around Jefferson Square Park after the grand jury decision and blocked intersections, but there were no initial confrontations with law enforcement. A U-Haul van was seen pulling up with large shields and other supplies for demonstrators. Large placards had messages advocating to Abolish Police and Abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Several prominent African American celebrities including LeBron, Oprah and Beyoncé have joined those urging that the officers be charged.