Protests are kicking off in Louisville after a Kentucky grand jury announced that three officers would not face charges for the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.
Hundreds of people were gathered in Jefferson Square Park on Wednesday when the grand jury handed down its decision to indict just one of the officers involved in Taylor’s killing, Brett Hankison, on charges of ‘wanton endangerment’ for shooting into the homes of the 26-year-old EMT’s neighbors when they executed a no-knock warrant on March 13.
The crowds erupted in anger, disgust and mourning and immediately began marching through the streets of Louisville, which is currently under a 72-hour curfew with a state of emergency designation in effect.
Police had already begun making arrests by 5.30pm, hours before the 9pm curfew hit, according to local media reports, and the Kentucky National Guard is on standby to help control crowds should the situation escalate.
In other parts of the city, members of far-right groups the Boogaloo Boys and the Proud Boys set out to face off with the Taylor protesters.
They were seen approaching Louisville residents fully armed and engaging in verbal altercations with drivers as they marched toward downtown.
Other cities across the US are also bracing for a night of unrest as protesters began to congregate in New York City and Chicago.
Protests kicked off in Louisville on Wednesday afternoon after a Kentucky grand jury announced that three officers would not face charges for the shooting death of Breonna Taylor
A woman reacts with anguish after a Kentucky grand jury handed down its decision in the death of Breonna Taylor
Hundreds of people who gathered in Jefferson Square Park to hear the grand jury’s decision reacted with anger and frustration after learning that just one of the three officers involved in Taylor’s death would face charges
Police were seen detaining multiple people hours ahead of the city’s 9pm curfew going into effect
A police officer detains a protester in downtown Louisville as demonstrations kicked off on Wednesday afternoon
Protesters carrying ‘Abolish the police’ signs hold their fists in the air during a march in Louisville on Wednesday afternoon
Armed counter protesters also descended on Louisville and were seen harassing drivers
In Jefferson Square Park, people were seen breaking down in tears and screaming while others quickly gathered together to begin marching, despite the incoming 72-hour curfew and large parts of the city being closed down.
‘That’s it?’ some questioned, while others called to burn the city down. ‘We don’t get no murder charges?’ another asked.
Many were angered that Hankison, the sole cop charged with three counts of ‘wanton endangerment’ of Taylor’s neighbors, was required to post just a $15,000 bond.
WHAT IS WANTON ENDANGERMENT?
What is the charge?
Charges of wanton endangerment are brought when a person is found to have recklessly engaged in conduct, without concern for human life, that puts a person at risk of death or serious injury.
‘A person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person,’ state law says.
What is the penalty?
Wanton endangerment in Kentucky is a class D felony.
It can bring a sentence of up to five years in prison.
How are the charges related to the Breonna Taylor case?
The three counts of wanton endangerment were brought against Officer Brett Hankison after the bullets he fired inside Taylor’s apartment traveled into a neighboring apartment.
Crime scene photos show the walls of Taylor’s apartment riddled with bullet holes.
The protesters appeared to have been prepared to take action with a U-Haul van quickly arriving with shields and signs reading ‘Abolish the police’ and ‘Abolition now’.
Video footage showed them rushing to offload the van before they marched toward the barricaded part of the city.
Helicopters watched over the demonstration as it kicked off shortly after the decision was heard.
By 2.15pm, the Times reported that 250 protesters were already marching with two dozen police cruisers in pursuit.
The group initially march through the closed sections of the city as they chanted ‘If we don’t get it, shut it down’.
Earlier a group of 150 people had blocked an intersection of Broadway and 6th Street, just outside a barricade that authorities have established around city buildings to keep protesters away.
Cops quickly arrived and demonstrators moved along, watched over by more police cars.
Tensions already began to mount as police blocked the crowd from accessing certain roads and leaders tried to keep the group together.
At one point, protesters stopped to taunt officers waiting inside a vehicle.
At around 3pm the crowd had grown to several hundred people as they stopped to organize at an intersection with shields to the front.
Many shouted at those watching from their homes to begin participating.
Tensions rose further still as businesses began to be targeted and several windows were smashed.
Some protestors were seen knocking over tables and chairs in front of a restaurant before meeting with a white citizen group who were patrolling in front of businesses to keep them secure.
‘It tells people, cops can kill you in the sanctity of your own home,’ Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist, told the Times of the decision.
‘It’s unjustifiable,’ added Desaray Yarbrough, a Louisville resident who came out to watch the march as it went by.
‘The lack of charges is getting ready to bring the city down.’
As the protesters had gathered ahead of the announcement, leaders had called for peace with one of them calling on the crowd to ensure that ‘white man check white man, black man check black man’.
Protesters unloaded shields from a U-Haul truck as they began to march Wednesday afternoon
Early in the protest, a crowd gathered by a barricade in the downtown area
A police officer looks on as people react to the grand jury’s decision on Breonna Taylor’s death
People are detained in Louisville after a demonstration over Breonna Taylor’s shooting death on Wednesday afternoon
People react to the grand jury decision on Breonna Taylor’s death as hundreds gather to protest
Ahead of the announcement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer had announced a 72-hour curfew for the city beginning at 9pm, with exceptions for those going to work or to seek medical treatment, in anticipation of unrest following the decision.
‘I urge everybody to choose peaceful and lawful protest,’ Fischer, a white Democrat, said shortly before the announcement.
‘This is obviously a really important time for our city. I want us to think about our kids and our grandkids and get this right.’
He had declared a state of emergency on Tuesday.
Barricades had also been placed around downtown this week to reduce access to the area.
Demonstrations over Taylor’s death have taken place for 100 days in Louisville.
Four wheeled military vehicles enter the city ahead of a 9pm curfew Wednesday that will stay in place for 72 hours
Protestors cried out in anger as the grand jury decision was announced and a large march begins
Other demonstrators watched on in shock and disbelief as only one cop was charged
Around the country, other cities were bracing for protests where there have also been weeks of unrest over Taylor’s shooting.
Gov J.B. Pritzker of Illinois had spoken to the National Guard about being prepared for protests and had spoken to Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago.
Hankison faces up to five years in prison if convicted of the endangerment charges.
He was with two colleagues when they shot into the apartment of Taylor, 26, killing her in front of her boyfriend on March 13.
The two other officers, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not charged because the investigation showed that under Kentucky law they ‘were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,’ Taylor’s boyfriend, Attorney General Daniel Cameron said.
‘There is no doubt that this is a gut-wrenching, emotional case,’ Cameron, a Black Republican, said at a news conference.
Taylor’s death, alongside that of George Floyd, a Black man who died in May after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, helped spark a nationwide wave of protests demanding racial justice and an end to the use of excessive force by law enforcement.
Fury as just one cop is charged with ‘putting neighbors at risk with wild firing’ in Breonna Taylor’s death and two others walk FREE
Fired Louisville detective Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid on the night of March 13
One of the three Louisville police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor has been indicted by a Kentucky grand jury, following a four-month investigation into the 26-year-old EMT’s death that sparked protests against police brutality nationwide.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Annie O’Connell on Wednesday announced the grand jury’s decision to charge former detective Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid on the night of March 13.
The first-degree charge, a Class D felony which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, relates to Hankinson shooting into the neighboring apartments during the incident, not Taylor’s death.
Hankinson was fired by the Louisville Metro Police Department in June after officials said he violated policy by ‘wantonly and blindly’ firing his gun during the raid.
Sgt Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, who were also present at the time of the fatal operation, were not charged.
Neither the grand jury nor the presiding judge elaborated on the charges.
State Attorney General Daniel Cameron addressed the long-awaited decision shortly after the announcement in a news conference in Frankfort.
Cameron revealed the investigation found:
- Sergeant Mattingly and detectives Cosgrove and Hankison had no known involvement in the obtainment of the search warrant executed on March 13.
- Mattingly was the first and the only officer to enter the residence, where he saw Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker open fire.
- There is no evidence to support that sergeant Mattingly was hit by friendly fire from other officers.
- Mattingly returned fire with six shots. Almost simultaneously, detective Cosgrove also in the doorway, shot 16 times.
- In total, six bullets struck Taylor, but only one was determined to be fatal.
- Detective Hankison fired his weapon ten times, firing bullets into apartment 4 and apartment 3.
- At the time, three residents of apartment 3 were at home including a male, pregnant female, and a child.
- There is no conclusive evidence that any bullets fired from detective Hankison’s weapon struck Taylor.
- The ballistics analysis did not identify which of the three officers fired the fatal shot.
- The FBI investigation later concluded the fatal shot was fired by detective Cosgrove.
- Investigation found Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the use of force after Walker opened fire.
He gave a detailed account of the months-long investigation into the events leading up to deadly shooting, which he said had been pieced together by ballistics reports, 911 calls, and witness interviews, due to the lack of bodycam footage.
But Cameron, who is the state’s first Black attorney general, said that the officers were not charged because they acted in self-defense after Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them.
‘I certainly understand the pain that has been brought about by the tragic loss of Miss Taylor. I understand that as an attorney general … I understand that as a black man,’ Cameron told reporters.
‘This team, myself, and the representatives of the Attorney General’s office have taken a lot of criticism and scrutiny. But that scrutiny in many ways was misplaced because there was not a day that people in this office didn’t go to sleep thinking about this case.
Louisville police have declared a state of emergency ahead of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s announcement about whether he will charge officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor (pictured)
Officers Myles Cosgrove (left) and John Mattingly (right) who were present during the police raid on March 13, were not charged on Wednesday. Hankison was fired from the LMPD while the other two officers were placed on administrative assignment
‘Criminal law is not meant to respond to every sorrow and grief, and that is true here. But my heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor,’ the AG said.
Investigators believe Cosgrove was responsible for firing the bullet that took Taylor’s life. Taylor was shot at least five times after officers barged into her apartment while acting on a search warrant for a drug investigation.
Her 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 had told police he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defense.
Cameron said Cosgrove and Mattingly were not charged after investigators determined their actions were justified because Walker opened fire.
‘According to Kentucky law, the use of force by (Officers Jonathan) Mattingly and (Myles) Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves,’ he said. ‘This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.’
The three officers did not take part in the obtaining of the warrant, he said.
The raid had been widely reported by the media as a ‘no-knock’ warrant however, further investigations later proved the cops had knocked before entering.
Walker had also told investigators he did hear knocking, but maintained the cops had not identify themselves as police.
They knocked on Taylor’s apartment door and announced their presence outside, which Cameron said was corroborated by a neighbor who witnessed the arrival.
Getting no answer, Cameron said police officers ‘breached the door’ and gained entry into the apartment.
Mattingly entered first, and at the end of a corridor saw Taylor and with Walker who was pointing a gun.
Walker fired, injuring Mattingly in the thigh. Mattingly returned fire, and his colleagues began shooting soon after, Cameron said. Hankison fired 10 bullets, Cameron said.
Six bullets hit Taylor, though there is no ‘conclusive’ evidence that any came from Hankinson’s gun, Cameron said. Bullets fired by Hankison traveled into a neighboring apartment.
Donald Trump and Kamala Harris punt when asked about Breonna Taylor, saying they need to read the verdict first after outrage pours in when just one police officer is charged
President Donald Trump punted when asked if believed justice was being served after a grand jury in Kentucky indicted a single officer in the killing of Breonna Taylor.
The president spoke about his own record – once again comparing it to Abraham Lincoln’s – and said he would comment on it later.
He was asked at the White House soon after detective Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment but two other officers were not charged.
The president was asked shortly afterward: ‘Do you believe that justice was served in he Breonna Taylor case in Kentucky, and what is your message to the black community who believe that perhaps justice was not served by the decision which was rendered by the decision that was rendered by the grand jury in Kentucky?’
”Well, my message is that I love the black community. And I’ve done more for the black community than any other president,’ President Trump said Wednesday when asked for his immediate reaction to a single officer being indicted in the Breonna Taylor shooting
‘I haven’t read it fully yet, but there’s no question that Breonna Taylor and her family deserve justice yesterday, today and tomorrow so I’ll review it,’ said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), when asked about the charges
He responded: ‘Well, my message is that I love the black community. And I’ve done more for the black community than any other president. And I say, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln,’ Trump said, before rattling off accomplishments, some of which built on existing programs or included Democratic buy-in.
‘And mean that with opportunities zones and with criminal justice reform, with prison reform, with what we’ve done for historically black universities, colleges, schools, what we’ve done – nobody has done more,’ the president said.
‘Abraham Lincoln, let’s give him the nod, but beyond that, nobody’s done more. I love the black community,’ Trump said.
He steered clear of any substantive language on the verdict itself, as authorities in Louisville, where Taylor was killed, declared a curfew and lined the streets to guard against possible unrest.
‘I don’t know enough about it. I heard the decision was just made. We’ve been together here, and so we haven’t discussed it. But after I see what the decision is, I will have a comment on it,’ said Trump.
Rival Joe Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, also declined to immediately an opinion on the indictment.
‘I haven’t read it fully yet, but there’s no question that Breonna Taylor and her family deserve justice yesterday, today and tomorrow so I’ll review it,’ said the Senate Judiciary Committee member.
Harris tweeted back in June: ‘The officers who murdered Breonna Taylor nearly three months ago still have not been charged. We can’t forget about Black women in our quest for justice.’
A timeline of events related to the shooting death of Breonna Taylor
– March 13: Officers serving a narcotics warrant fatally shoot Taylor in her home in Louisville, Kentucky.
– March 13, hours later: Police announce the arrest of Kenneth Walker in the wounding of an officer during an exchange of gunfire; Taylor is left unidentified at the news conference, described as ‘an unresponsive woman who was later pronounced dead.’
– March, April: The shooting stays out of the headlines as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads in the U.S.
– April 27, Taylor’s family files wrongful death lawsuit against police department and city, challenging the police narrative.
– May 13: Top Louisville prosecutor Tom Wine recuses himself from reviewing police investigation, Attorney General Daniel Cameron named as special prosecutor.
– May 22: Prosecutors announce they will drop attempted murder charges against Walker, who shot at officers in his girlfriend’s home.
– May 28: Walker’s anguished 911 call is released, three days after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota, sparking large protests in Louisville.
– May 29: Mayor Greg Fischer suspends use of no-knock warrants by Louisville police.
– June 1: Fischer fires Police Chief Steve Conrad after officers failed to turn on body cameras in shooting of barbecue cook David McAtee during protests in Louisville.
– June 11: Louisville Metro Council unanimously passes ‘Breonna´s Law’ which bans use of no knock warrants.
– June 14: Pop star Beyoncé writes Attorney General Daniel Cameron, urging him to charge police officers.
– June 23: Officer Brett Hankison, one of 3 officers who fired shots the night of Taylor’s death, is fired for ‘blindly’ firing into Taylor´s apartment.
– June 25: Celebrities join hundreds of demonstrators outside state Capitol calling on Cameron to charge officers.
– June 28: Photographer Tyler Gerth is fatally shot at site of ongoing protests in downtown Louisville.
– July 14: Protesters are arrested for demonstrating on Cameron´s front lawn.
– August 12: Taylor´s mother, Tamika Palmer, meets with Cameron.
– September 5: Hundreds peacefully protest outside Kentucky Derby, urging Cameron to criminally charge the officers.
– September 7: Fischer names Yvette Gentry, first Black woman to lead Louisville Police department, as interim chief beginning Oct. 1.
– September 9: Cameron is included on President Donald Trump’s shortlist of Supreme Court candidates.
– September 15: City announces civil settlement providing Taylor´s family with $12 million and promising police reforms.
– September 22: Louisville police set up blockades downtown in anticipation of Cameron’s announcement.