Kentucky officer indicted for role in Breonna Taylor raid

After months of protests over the killing of Breonna Taylor in a botched Louisville police raid, one of the officers has been indicted on charges of “wanton endangerment.” Ms. Taylor’s shooting has been part of a broader reckoning over policing and racial injustice. 

Darron Cummings/AP
People gather waiting to hear whether the police officers who raided Breonna Taylor's home will be charged, Sept. 23, in Louisville, Kentucky. Some protesters were devastated upon learning none of the officers would be charged for their role in Ms. Taylor's death.

A Kentucky grand jury on Wednesday indicted a single 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.

A grand jury announced that Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid on the night of March 13.

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

State Attorney General Daniel Cameron scheduled a news conference in the capital, Frankfort, to discuss the grand jury’s decision.

Protesters have consistently pressured him to act, and celebrities and pro athletes had joined them in calling on the attorney general to charge the police who shot Ms. Taylor. At one point, demonstrators converged on his house and were charged with felonies for trying to intimidate the prosecutor.

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

Ms. 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.

Mr. 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, Mr. 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 Ms. Taylor’s apartment in March.

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

Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, hitting Mr. 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-defense.

On Sept. 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.

Protesters in Louisville and across the country have demanded justice for Ms. Taylor and other Black people killed by police in recent months. The release in late May of a 911 call by Ms. 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.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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