Brett Hankison, one of the former police officers involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor, has been indicted by a Kentucky grand jury. Hankison does not face any charges in the actual death of Breonna Taylor. Instead, the former officer’s first-degree wanton endangerment charge concerns Taylor’s neighbors, who had shots blindly fired through a door and a window of their apartment on the night of her death by Hankison.
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A Kentucky grand jury announced on Wednesday that Louisville Police Officer Brett Hankison, one of the three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Taylor, will be charged for shooting into a neighboring apartment and not in her death. Visit the link in our bio for more on this developing story from @buzzfeednews. (📸: Courtesy of Aguiar Injury Lawyers; Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
These charges come over six months after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was murdered by Louisville police officers in her home in the middle of the night. After police rammed down her door without announcement or a warrant, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker III thought they were experiencing a break in to their apartment and shot one of the officers in the leg. The police then fired around 20 rounds — some of which entered into the neighboring apartment, and six of which directly hit Taylor, killing her.
Sergeant John Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, the other two officers involved in Taylor’s murder, were not issued any charges over the incident, despite months of demonstrations demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. Hankison will also not receive any charges directly related to her killing.
Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron called the actions of the three officers “justified” during the announcement on Wednesday due to Taylor’s boyfriend having shot at the officers first. Cameron also reiterated that none of the three officers would receive any charges for their involvement in Breonna Taylor’s death.
“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves,” said Cameron. “This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”
Many civil liberty organizations pushed back publicly at the announcement. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky called the decision not to bring charges to the officers “the latest miscarriage of justice in our nation’s long history of denying that Black lives matter” in a tweet. The NAACP noted that the justice system had “failed” Taylor with charges that do not “go far enough.”
Louisville has been preparing for upset and unrest over the decision. On Tuesday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer declared a state of emergency, citing “the potential for civil unrest.” He also announced a 72-hour countywide curfew beginning at 9 p.m. and activated the National Guard shortly after.
The indictment announcement comes after Breonna Taylor’s family received an historic $12 million settlement from the city of Louisville in their wrongful death lawsuit. The city also pledged to create “Breonna’s Law,” which would enact police reforms including using social workers as support in certain situations, mandating the use of body cameras, and requiring commanders to approve all search warrants before they are taken to a judge.
An investigation into Breonna Taylor’s murder was launched in May by the Kentucky attorney general, and federal officials are reportedly also investigating the use of force in the case.
We are disgusted and saddened by this decision. We won’t stop fighting for justice, and the value of people over property. We won’t stop saying her name. Rest in peace Breonna Taylor.