A Kentucky grand jury has returned a three-count indictment against one of the three officers involved in the March 13 shooting death of Breonna Taylor. However, none of the officers involved have been charged with Taylor’s death.
Former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison was indicted by the grand jury on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree, defined as exhibiting extreme indifference to human life. A $15,000 cash bond was set.
The three wanton endangerment charges against Hankison are for shooting into a neighboring apartment, not Taylor’s apartment. In comments made after the indictment announcement, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said there was a male, a pregnant female and a child in the other apartment; thus, the three charges. Cameron said none of the shots Hankinson fired hit Breonna Taylor. Cameron was appointed as special prosecutor in the case by Gov. Andy Beshear.
Cameron said shots fired by Officer Jonathan Mattingly — who fired six rounds after being shot in the leg by Breonna’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker — and by Officer Myles Cosgrove, who who fired 16 shots, “were justified in their return of deadly fire after being fired upon,” and so those officers have not been charged.
Taylor was shot a total of six times but only one shot was judged to be fatal. She died within seconds to two minutes of being shot, so paramedics presumably couldn’t have saved her.
Cameron said federal officials are investigating potential civil rights charges in connection with the shooting but that his office isn’t.
Hankinson was fired from the Louisville police department in June for his part in the incident, during which it was determined he fired 10 rounds blindly into Taylor’s apartment during the execution of a so-called ‘no-knock’ warrant. Hankinson has appealed his firing.
Hankinson faces a sentence of up to five years in prison per count, for a maximum possible sentence of 15 years should he be sentenced to the maximum on each count and serve each term consecutively.
The announcement followa a $12 million settlement Taylor’s family reached last week with the City of Louisville in a wrongful-death lawsuit Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, filed in April. Taylor’s family had called for criminal charges to be filed against the three officers involved in the shooting.
The city of Louisville earlier this week declared a state of emergency in anticipation of today’s announcement. The Louisville Courier Journal reported police officials canceled all days off for personnel, while a 25-block perimeter of downtown was closed to traffic. Additionally, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced prior to Wednesday’s announcement that there would be a county-wide 72-hour curfew, from 9:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., beginning tonight. The curfew does not apply people going to and from work or houses of worship, or those seeking medical attention.
Governor Beshear also said he’s prepared to deploy the National Guard in the event Louisville sees the kind of sometimes violent demonstrations that other cities have experienced in recent months.
On March 13, officers fired shots into 26-year-old EMT Breonna Taylor’s apartment, hitting her at least six times and killing her as she slept in her bed. During the incident, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, heard the plainclothes police attempting to break down the door and believed it to be a break in. Walker fired his licensed gun in response, according to investigators, which is when police fired in response, killing Taylor.
Hankinson was fired from the police department on June 23 because of his actions during the incident. Officers Cosgrove and Mattingly were reassigned to administrative duties as the investigation into the incident continued.
Louisville’s Metro Council unanimously voted on June 10 to pass Breonna’s Law, which bans no-knock warrants and requires officers to turn on their body cameras before executing any warrant.
By Chris Watson
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