PHOTO CREDITS: CNN
Six months after the officer-involved shooting death of Black woman Breonna Taylor, 26, in her home during a narcotics raid, a Kentucky grand jury has concluded that none of the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in the case will be charged with her death, only indicting only of the three officers with endangerment.
Brett Hankison, who was fired from the force in June, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots into neighboring apartments of Taylor and had his bond set at $15,000, a Jefferson County jury decided Wednesday. The other two officers involved, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, did not receive charges from the grand jury. Responding to the Jury’s decision to not press charges directly for Taylor’s death, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said in a press briefing Wednesday that officers Mattingly and Cosgrove, who were shot at by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, before the officers fired their weapons, “were justified in their use of force.” Following the decision, Black Lives Matter protests/riots erupted across the country, with the most pressing demonstrations occurring in downtown Louisville, where windows were smashed, fires were set, and two police officers were shot during the hours that followed the decision.
The indictment was announced almost 200 days after Taylor was shot six times by the trio of officers who entered her home during a narcotics operation on March 13. The officers were serving a no-knock warrant – which was filed with Breonna Taylor’s name on it – when set out to carry out the operation. According to AG Cameron, despite executing a no-knock warrant, the officers announced themselves on the premises and did not receive a response, prompting them to legally bust down the door of the apartment that occupied Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. Walker, who’s lawyer claimed he was responding to someone breaking into the home, allegedly fired the first shots at the officers (Associated Press). The officers allegedly responded to Walker’s gunshots by firing into the home, striking Taylor, who was standing in the hallway, six times. According to a ballistics report by the FBI, Mattingly fired six times and Cosgrove fired sixteen times. The AG claimed there were “discrepancies between the investigation carried out by Kentucky State Police and the FBI over which officer fired the shot that killed Taylor,” though the FBI determined that Cosgrove fired the shot that ultimately killed the woman (Fox News).
AG Cameron, speaking of the incident, stated that “While there are six possible homicide charges under Kentucky law, these charges are not applicable to the fact before us, because our investigation showed, and the grand jury agreed, that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their return of deadly fire.” According to NPR, AG Cameron cited officers’ statements, one witness, and the FBI and state investigation into the incident. There is no video or body footage of the incident. According to local prosecutors, Taylor’s boyfriend Walker was initially accused of attemted murder of a police officer, though these charges were later dropped.
Despite the comments by the grand jury and the AG, outrage erupted across the country, as individuals called the decision unjust and called by real justice for Breonna Taylor. Taylor’s family attorney Ben Crump, speaking about the Jury’s decision, stated, “Jefferson Grand Jury indicts former ofc. Brett Hankison with 3 counts of Wanton Endangerment in 1st Degree for bullets that went into other apartments but NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor. This is outrageous and offensive.” Carl Takei, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Criminal Law Reform Project, said, “Today’s decision is not accountability and not close to justice. Justice would have been [Louisville Metro Police Department] officers never shooting Breonna Taylor in the first place. The choice to bring these charges alone and so late highlights the indifference to human life shown by everyone involved in Breonna Taylor’s murder.”
According to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, a citywide curfew has been extended through the weekend, a move made in anticipation of further protests, violence, and strike in response to the Grand Jury ruling on the death of Breonna Taylor. On Wednesday night, protests were mostly peaceful until curfew, in which two Louisville police officers were shot, inflaming tensions and sparking city-wide unrest between protesters/rioters and police officers. On Thursday night, 24 individuals were arrested on charges of unlawful assembly, failure to disperse, and riot in the first degree, as of Friday morning, the Louisville Police Department reported. The police department alleged that protesters “broke windows at a restaurant, damaged city buses, tried to set a fire and threw a flare into the street,” (NPR). According to USA Today, protesters/rioters had a standoff, as some clashed, with police at a local church. A high-profile state legislator for Kentucky, who is the only black legislator and is sponsoring a bill banning no-knock warrants, was arrested at the riots, being charged with a felony charge of riot in the first degree.
Over the last couple of days, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in major cities across the United States calling for justice for Breonna Taylor and police reform, including in Chicago, Portland, Milwaukee, New York, and Washington DC.
ARTICLE: BRENT SMITH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
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