In a decision that has inflamed Black Lives Matter activists in Louisville, a grand jury has indicted only one of three officers involved in the March 13 fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor.
Former detective Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment for showing “extreme indifference to human life” when he fired his gun into three apartments. The charges were not for killing Taylor, but for putting her neighbors in danger.
A wanton endangerment charge is a class D felony and carries a penalty of one to five years in prison. The charges read by Judge Annie O’Connell on Wednesday said that Hankison “wantonly shot a gun” into adjoining Apartment 3.
Neither Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly nor Detective Myles Cosgrove were indicted.
An ongoing protest in Louisville following the announcement of the decision has already resulted in several arrests.
Taylor was shot inside her apartment at approximately 12:40 a.m. last March when three plainclothes officers attempted to serve a search warrant as a part of a narcotics investigation. Taylor had dated a drug dealer who was one of the police’s main suspects in their investigation.
Detective Joshua Jaynes, who obtained the search warrant for Taylor’s apartment, claimed that he had verified through a U.S. postal inspector that Jamarcus Glover, Taylor’s former boyfriend, had been receiving packages at Taylor’s apartment.
According to detective Jaynes, Glover was using Taylor’s apartment as his home address.
Police and prosecutors have claimed that the officers knocked and announced themselves before breaking down the door. According to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, “evidence shows the officers both knocked and announced their presence” before entering the apartment” and their statements were corroborated by an independent witness who was “in close proximity” to the apartment.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, has said he thought intruders were breaking into the apartment. He said he heard pounding at the door, but he did not hear the police announcing who they were, so he fired one shot at the police, hitting Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the leg.
The Kentucky Attorney General held a press conference shortly after the grand jury’s announcement Wednesday afternoon. Cameron stressed during the presser that the although the grand jury found no criminal violations on the part of the police in the accidental shooting of Taylor, it was a tragic, “gut-wrenching” case,
“The decision before my office as the special prosecutor in the case was not to decide if the loss of Miss Taylor’s life was a tragedy. The answer to that question is unequivocally yes,” he said.
“It is no doubt that this is a gut-wrenching case and the pain that many people are feeling is understandable. I deeply care about the sanctity and value of human life. It deserves protection and in this case, a human life was lost,” Cameren added. “My job as the special prosecutor in this case was to put emotions aside and investigate the facts to determine if criminal violations of state law resulted in the loss of Miss Taylor’s life. ”
The family’s lawyer, Florida-based attorney Benjamin Crump, slammed the grand jury’s decision on Twitter, calling it “outrageous and offensive” that none of the charges were connected to Taylor’s death.
In reality, there was a search warrant for Taylor’s apartment because she had ties to Glover, one of their main suspects.
Protesters gathered at Jefferson Square Park an began marching through town after the grand jury’s decision was announced.
“People are heartbroken, and they’re pissed the f*** off, and I am too,” protester Logan Cleaver told the Courier-Journal. “Of course I hope that people get home safe and they can get home to their families at night, but I know people are mad, and they want s**t f*****d up. And to be honest, this place should burn tonight, tomorrow night and the night after.”
A crowd of about 300 continued to march down Kentucky Street, stopping once to reorganize. Some people made phone calls asking others to join.
Chants included: “Keep going” and “If we don’t get (Justice), burn it down” before the group turned right onto Shelby Street.
Protesters yelled for people watching the crowd to get out of their “homes and into the streets.”
Several police vehicles trailed closely behind the marchers. The National Guard was also on the scene, according to the Courier-Journal.
As the march moved, one person threw a firework in a trash can, but others discouraged it. A few times, people poured water into garbage cans, apparently putting out fires others had started. One person stopped to fix a trash can that had been knocked over.
Every time there’s vandalism, others try to stop or right it pic.twitter.com/zUgDU886Ze
— Bailey Loosemore (@bloosemore) September 23, 2020
LMPD now blocking Bardstown Road pic.twitter.com/p95W96sYCv
— Bailey Loosemore (@bloosemore) September 23, 2020
A parked U-Haul was waiting for the crowd up the street. It contains supplies such as signs, shields, water etc. I’m not sure how people knew what it contained. Police are up ahead pic.twitter.com/qObHK3E83y
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) September 23, 2020
After a stand-off with police, eight to ten rioters were reportedly arrested, according to a live feed videographer on the scene.
Police in riot gear are blocking off Bardstown road. There have been several arrests. pic.twitter.com/x5hxKGGlud
— Hayes Gardner (@HayesGardner) September 23, 2020
Another live feed of the protests (that will likely turn to riots after dark) can be viewed here.
The protests have turned ugly as rioters “storm a restaurant” and begin throwing furniture around.
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) September 23, 2020
Louisville Police have announced that the protest has been declared an “unlawful assembly” and those who refuse to disperse may be hit with a chemical agent and be subject to arrest.