- A grand jury has charged just one of the three officers involved in the police shooting of Breonna Taylor.
- The three counts, for first-degree wanton endangerment, are over shots now-former officer Brett Hankison fired into a neighbouring apartment, but not for Taylor’s death.
- The grand jury declined to charge the other two officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove.
- Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he doesn’t expect more charges related to Taylor’s death.
- Taylor’s case has been a focal point for Black Lives Matter protesters since the shooting in March.
- After George Floyd’s death in May, renewed attention pushed Kentucky prosecutors to take the case and empanel the grand jury.
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A Louisville grand jury has charged Brett Hankison, one of the three police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death, with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.
It declined to charge the other two officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove.
The charges against Hankison are for firing shots into a neighbouring apartment during the botched drug raid that led to Taylor’s death. None of the charges are related to police officers killing her.
The grand jury decision comes after months of pressure from activists. Officers shot Taylor in her own Louisville home in March.
“During the last six months, we’ve all heard mention of possible charges that could be brought into this case,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said at a press conference following the jury decision. “It’s important to understand that all the charges that have been mentioned have specific meanings and ramifications.”
Cameron said prosecutors didn’t believe homicide charges were appropriate, since Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend with her in the apartment, fired at the officers when they battered down the door.
“Criminal homicide encompasses the taking of a life by another,” he said. “While there are six possible homicide charges under Kentucky law, these charges are not applicable to the facts before us because our investigation show and the grand jury agreed that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their return of deadly fire after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker.”
First-degree wanton endangerment is a Class D felony, meaning Hankinson could face up to five years in prison for each count if he’s found guilty, according to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Hankinson’s bond is set at $US15,000. His attorney told WXIX that he will plead not guilty.
The jury was formed only after months of activism
Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend who was present during the incident, has said he was “scared to death” as the three officers tried to enter their home.
After receiving no response after hearing multiple knocks, their door “came off its hinges” and Walker fired and struck Mattingly in the leg. He said it was a warning shot to protect Taylor.
“I’m licensed to carry, everything,” Walker said, according to audio from his interview with the Louisville Police Department obtained by CNN. “I’ve never even fired my gun outside of a range. I’m scared to death.”
Cameron disputed that characterization of events, saying the officers knocked and announced themselves.
Prior to the grand jury’s decision, Hankinson was terminated from the department in June, while Cosgrove and Mattingly were placed on administrative reassignment.
According to the first African American attorney general of Kentucky, Sgt. Mattingly fired six shots and Det. Cosgrove fired 16 times, in seconds, during the incident. Det. Hankinson fired 10 times from his firearm and some bullets struck through neighbouring apartments.
“In total, six bullets struck Ms. Taylor,” Cameron said. “Medical evidence obtained by our team indicates that only one shot was fatal. Further medical evidence shows that Ms. Taylor would have died from the fatal shot within a few seconds to two minutes after being struck.”
Cameron said the shot that killed Taylor was from Det. Cosgrove, according to a ballistic analysis by the FBI.
Protests had heightened in Louisville for months as demonstrators put pressure on Kentucky officials for the officers to be charged and arrested for Taylor’s death. Following the death of George Floyd in May, protesters around the country have rallied against police violence toward Black Americans. And in July, dozens of protesters were charged after rallying on Cameron’s front yard.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron empaneled the grand jury, following an investigation from his office, earlier this month. The city of Louisville has also agreed to pay $US12 million to Taylor’s family to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit.
The city of Louisville has prepared for more protests
City officials considered had prepared for the announcement in anticipation of mass protests if the grand jury declined to charge the officers.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder announced a 72-hour curfew countywide starting Wednesday night, as well as activated The National Guard to aid local law enforcement with civil unrest.
On Monday, the Louisville Police issued a state of emergency to “ensure we have the appropriate level of staffing to provide for public safety services and our policing functions,” according to the Louisville-Courier Journal.
In addition, the department announced that vehicles could not park in downtown Louisville and that barricades will be placed in the downtown area ahead of the grand jury’s decision. Mayor Fischer declared a second state of emergency on Tuesday to double down on preparation efforts.
#BREAKING: A State of Emergency has been declared in Louisville, Kentucky in preparation of the grand jury decision for the Breonna Taylor case. LMPD has banned days off and is erecting barricades across the city. pic.twitter.com/vlcLfweJxh
— Hunter Cullen ???? #WeAreAntifa (@HunterJCullen) September 21, 2020
“Let me be clear, LMPD does not have any information regarding when the attorney general will make any announcements or what the announcement will be,” Louisville Chief Schroeder said in a press conference Tuesday. ” We are merely taking steps that we feel are necessary to protect the public, the businesses, and the property in the downtown area in advance of any decision.
Last week, Louisville officials ordered to close four federal buildings including the Gene Snyder US Courthouse and Custom House between September 21-25.
This article has been updated.
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