Former US police officer Brett Hankison indicted in Breonna Taylor case, but not for her death
A Kentucky grand jury has brought no charges against Louisville police for the killing of Breonna Taylor during a drug raid gone wrong, with prosecutors saying two officers who fired their weapons at the black woman were justified in using force to protect themselves.
- One former police officer faces up to five years in prison for “wanton endangerment”
- Two other officers were justified in their use of force, the Kentucky Attorney-General said
- The Taylor family’s lawyer said the lack of charges directly related to her death is “outrageous and offensive”
The grand jury instead charged former officer Brett Hankison, who was sacked in June, with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into Ms Taylor’s neighbours’ homes during the raid on the night of March 13.
Kentucky Attorney-General Daniel Cameron said six bullets hit Ms Taylor.
One was fatal.
He said the investigation found the two other officers, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, announced themselves before entering the 26-year-old’s apartment, and did not use a no-knock warrant.
Previously it had been widely reported that police used a ‘no-knock’ warrant as part of a narcotics investigation.
After the decision on Wednesday, protesters in Louisville chanted, “No justice, no peace!” and began marching through the streets. Some sat quietly and wept.
Police detained some demonstrators and later cordoned off a street with yellow tape, telling protesters to move back.
Officers in protective gear could be seen detaining and handcuffing some of the protesters.
Mr Cameron, who is the state’s first black attorney general, called Ms Taylor’s death a “tragedy”, but said the circumstances surrounding her death were different when compared to other police shootings.
“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,” he said.
The wanton endangerment charges each carry a sentence of up to five years.
The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in the case.
‘Outrageous and offensive’
Along with the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ms Taylor’s case became a major touchstone for the protests that have gripped the nation since May — drawing attention to entrenched racism while demanding police reform.
Ms Taylor’s image has been painted on streets, emblazoned on protest signs and silk-screened onto T-shirts worn by celebrities.
As the protests continued in Louisville, police declare unlawful assembly before curfew, saying chemical agents may be used if protesters don’t disperse.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said he had authorised a “limited” deployment of the National Guard as hundreds of demonstrators gathered.
Speaking at a news conference, he said the deployment is “based on very specific operations”, and was under the sole command of the National Guard.
Governor Beshear said the National Guard would protect “critical infrastructure”, including hospitals.
Lawyer Ben Crump, representing Ms Taylor’s family, wrote on Twitter the lack of charges directly related to her death was “outrageous and offensive”.
The state of Kentucky has implemented a curfew from 9:00pm (local time).
Ms Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by officers who entered her home 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.
Ms Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, hitting Sergeant Mattingly.
Mr Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but prosecutors later dropped the charge.
Mr Walker told police he heard knocking, but didn’t know who was coming into the home, and fired in self-defence.
Officer Hankison was fired from the city’s police department on June 23.
A termination letter 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 Ms Taylor’s apartment in March.
On September 15, the city settled a lawsuit against the three officers brought by Ms Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, agreeing to pay her $12 million and enact police reforms.