1 officer indicted in Breonna Taylor case but not for her death

Editor’s note: This article has been updated.

A Louisville, Kentucky grand jury on Wednesday indicted one former police officer for shooting into neighboring apartments but did not move forward with charges against any officers for their role in Breonna Taylor’s death.

The jury announced that fired Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection with the police raid of Taylor’s home on the night of March 13.

Neither the grand jury nor the presiding judge elaborated on the charges.

Immediately after the announcement, people expressed frustration that the grand jury did not do more.

“Justice has NOT been served,” tweeted Linda Sarsour of Until Freedom, a group that has pushed for charges in the case. “Rise UP. All across this country. Everywhere. Rise up for #BreonnaTaylor.”

Protesters have consistently pressured state Attorney General Daniel Cameron to act, and celebrities and pro athletes had joined them in calling on the attorney general to charge the police who shot Taylor as she was inside her home. At one point, demonstrators converged on his house and were charged with felonies for trying to intimidate the prosecutor.

A Republican, Cameron is the state’s first Black state attorney general and a protege of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who has been tagged by some as his heir apparent. His was also one of 20 names on President Donald Trump’s list to fill a future Supreme Court vacancy.

Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by officers who entered her home using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. The warrant used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside. The use of no-knock warrants has since been banned by Louisville’s Metro Council.

Cameron’s office had been receiving materials from the Louisville Police Department’s public integrity unit while they tried to determine whether state charges would be brought against the three officers involved, he said.

Before charges were brought, Hankison was fired from the city’s police department on June 23. A termination letter sent to him by interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said the white officer had violated procedures by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” shot 10 rounds of gunfire into Taylor’s apartment in March.

Hankison, Sgt. Johnathan Mattingly, Officer Myles Cosgrove and the detective who sought the warrant, Joshua Jaynes, were placed on administrative reassignment after the shooting.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, hitting Mattingly. Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but prosecutors later dropped the charge.

Walker told police he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defense.

On Sept. 15, the city settled a lawsuit against the three officers brought by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, agreeing to pay her $12 million and enact police reforms.

Protesters in Louisville and across the country have demanded justice for Taylor and other Black people killed by police in recent months. The release in late May of a 911 call by Taylor’s boyfriend marked the beginning of days of protests in Louisville, fueled by her shooting and the violent death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Several prominent African American celebrities including Oprah and Beyoncé have joined those urging that the officers be charged.

Earlier Wednesday, officials in Louisville and communities throughout Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois prepared for more protests and possible unrest in anticipation of the grand jury’s report.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Tuesday declared a state of emergency due to the potential for civil unrest. Police hours earlier said they would restrict access in the city’s downtown area. The mayor and police said they were trying to plan ahead to protect both demonstrators and the people who live and work there.

Large protests over Taylor’s death that at times became violent erupted in late May in the city but most demonstrations since then have been peaceful. Celebrities, athletes, activists and Taylor’s family have for months pushed Cameron to criminally charge the officers involved in the raid.

Last week, the city of Louisville settled a lawsuit from Taylor’s family for $12 million and pledged several police reforms as part of the agreement.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the measures taken by Louisville police are due to the intense scrutiny of the Taylor case, in Louisville and around the country.

“The national attention here is so great, the potential for outsiders so significant, the possibility of someone taking something peaceful and trying to turn it into something that’s not, is all there,” Beshear said during his daily COVID-19 briefing Tuesday.

In Indiana, the governor’s office said some local communities had requested assistance of the Indiana National Guard, if necessary.

“Indiana National Guard soldiers are training with and are prepared to support local law enforcement in Southern Indiana,” Master Sgt. Jeff Lowry, spokesman for the Indiana National Guard, said in an email. “Our primary mission is to conduct military operations in support of civil authorities to enhance local law enforcement agencies’ ability to provide continued public safety and critical infrastructure security.”

In Indianapolis, Mayor Joe Hogsett said Wednesday that the city is monitoring the situation in Louisville.

He said one lesson learned from racial unrest this summer is that Indianapolis can’t ignore what’s happening in other cities. He said there might have been a time years ago that “we could collectively take a sigh of relief” that signs of civil unrest were happening elsewhere, but no longer.

Hogsett said Indianapolis will “continue to protect First Amendment rights when appropriate if protests return. And we will reflect upon and learn from lessons from this past summer. Hopefully, that response and those lessons learned will better prepare us if protesting begins.”

IMPD chief Randal Taylor said IMPD has had conversations within the department and with the Indiana State Police, and will respond “accordingly” to those who don’t follow the law. He said he hopes IMPD will just need to have a presence at any protests and not get involved.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday put the state’s National Guard in a “state of readiness” in anticipation of an announcement about Breonna Taylor.

Pritzker’s office said in a statement that the National Guard would fall under the direction of the state police if necessary. The National Guard was activated earlier this year during civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May.

In Louisville, Mayor Fischer said officials’ goal “is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights after the announcement.”

“At the same time, we are preparing for any eventuality to keep everyone safe,” he said.

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