|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [Hangout - NYLXS] New Wrinkle on the shooting war over policing
Two Louisville Officers Are Shot After Grand Jury Decision in Breonna
Taylor Case Sparks Protests
A grand jury indicted one of the Louisville police officers involved in
Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting—but on charges related to endangering
her neighbors, not charges linked to her death, Kentucky’s attorney
The announcement sparked protests Wednesday night during which two
Louisville officers were shot, interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said.
Ms. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency-room technician, was killed
when police executed a search warrant on her apartment six months ago.
Former Detective Brett Hankison, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective
Myles Cosgrove discharged their weapons during the raid.
The grand jury indicted Mr. Hankison on three counts of wanton
endangerment, stemming from bullets fired recklessly into a neighboring
apartment. Under Kentucky law, wanton endangerment involves conduct that
creates a substantial danger of death or serious injury, while showing
indifference to human life.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Sgt. Mattingly and Detective
Cosgrove were justified in using force after they were fired on, and
they weren’t charged.
Police officers cleared protesters in Louisville on Wednesday.
Photo: carlos barria/Reuters
“I know that not everyone will be satisfied with the charges we’ve
reported today,” Mr. Cameron said at a news conference Wednesday. “My
team set out to investigate the circumstances surrounding Ms. Taylor’s
death. We did it with a singular goal in mind—pursuing the truth.”
Ms. Taylor’s killing set off months of protests in Louisville and other
cities and drew national attention, with celebrities and civil-rights
activists urging Mr. Cameron to bring charges against the officers
involved. After the announcement Wednesday, protesters took to the
streets in Louisville, at times facing off with police.
Two Louisville officers were shot Wednesday night while responding to
reports of gunfire, Chief Schroeder said at a news briefing. The
officers were receiving treatment at a hospital, with one alert and
stable and the other undergoing surgery and stable, he said. Police had
a suspect in custody, he added.
Riot police with batons dispersed a group of protesters confronting a
line of police in the street late Wednesday afternoon, live video
footage of the incident showed. At one point, officers used tear gas and
they took several people into custody.
The city has issued a curfew from 9 p.m. until 6:30 a.m., and the
National Guard was activated to help with patrolling.
Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Ms. Taylor’s family, said in a
statement that the grand jury’s decision was “outrageous and offensive
to her memory” and “yet another example of no accountability for the
genocide of persons of color by white police officers.”
The Killing of Breonna Taylor
Sadiqa Reynolds, president of the Louisville Urban League, said,
“Justice looks different for different people in this country….What we
got today is what Black people normally get.”
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, at a news conference after the decision
was announced, said: “I know there are people in our community who feel
that these charges fall short of achieving justice.” He added that “the
case is far from over,” citing continuing investigations of the officers
and a top-to-bottom review of the police department.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden urged protesters to remain
“Do not sully [Ms. Taylor’s] memory or her mother’s by engaging in any
violence,” Mr. Biden told reporters Wednesday evening in Charlotte, N.C.
“It’s totally inappropriate for that to happen. She wouldn’t want it nor
would her mother, so I hope they do that.”
Mr. Biden declined to comment on the indictment, saying he hadn’t yet
been briefed on the matter. “My heart goes out for her mother,” he said.
In anticipation of Mr. Cameron’s announcement, Louisville police
restricted access to the city’s downtown this week, placing barricades
around a park where protesters have gathered. Mr. Fischer declared a
state of emergency Tuesday, saying the city wanted to ensure safety but
also allow people to exercise their freedom of speech.
In the raid on Ms. Taylor’s apartment on March 13, police said that
despite having secured a no-knock warrant—which allows police to storm a
residence without first announcing their presence—they banged on the
door several times and announced themselves. Mr. Cameron said that claim
was backed by evidence that his office reviewed.
Attorneys for Ms. Taylor’s family have said police burst in without
warning. Thinking they were intruders, according to the attorneys, Ms.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot at them, striking Sgt. Mattingly.
Sgt. Mattingly responded by firing six times and Detective Cosgrove by
shooting 16 times, Mr. Cameron said. “Mattingly and Cosgrove were
justified in the return of deadly fire, after having been fired upon by
Kenneth Walker,” he said.
In Louisville on Wednesday, people reacted after the decision in the
criminal case against police officers involved in the death of Ms. Taylor.
Photo: carlos barria/Reuters
Ms. Taylor was struck six times, though medical evidence showed only one
of the shots was fatal, Mr. Cameron said.
In June, Chief Schroeder fired Mr. Hankison, saying he violated
procedures when he “wantonly and blindly” fired 10 rounds in the
encounter. Mr. Hankison is appealing the decision to fire him.
Mr. Cameron said that no body-camera footage of the incident was
available, and that investigators relied on ballistics evidence, 911
calls and interviews, among other elements. There was no conclusive
evidence that bullets from Mr. Hankison’s weapon hit Ms. Taylor, he
said. A Federal Bureau of Investigation lab concluded that Detective
Cosgrove fired the fatal shot, while a state lab didn’t reach a
determination on which officer did.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron addressed the media in
Frankfort, Ky., on Wednesday.
Photo: Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press
Samuel Marcosson, a law professor at the University of Louisville, said
the decision on charges raised questions, such as why the response by
Sgt. Mattingly and Detective Cosgrove, and the number of bullets they
fired, wasn’t excessive or reckless.
“I’m not necessarily saying the decision was wrong, but more explanation
from the attorney general would have been helpful,” Mr. Marcosson said.
The FBI is continuing an inquiry into potential civil-rights violations.
Mr. Cameron’s office, which took over the investigation of the case
after the commonwealth’s attorney in Louisville recused himself, will
proceed with the case against Mr. Hankison. The wanton-endangerment
charge carries a penalty of as much as five years in prison for each count.
The Louisville Metro Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit conducted
a probe of the officers involved in the shooting and sent its findings
to Mr. Cameron’s office. Separately, an inquiry by the department’s
Professional Standards Unit is examining the role of a larger group of
officers involved in Ms. Taylor’s case.
Early Tuesday, Sgt. Mattingly sent an email to colleagues in which he
expressed support for them amid the controversy and assailed the mayor
and police leadership for their handling of the matter.
“Regardless of the outcome today or Wednesday, I know we did the legal,
moral and ethical thing that night,” Sgt. Mattingly wrote in the email,
which was reported earlier by Vice News and whose authenticity was
confirmed by Kent Wicker, his attorney. “It’s sad how the good guys are
demonized, and the criminals are canonized,” Sgt. Mattingly wrote.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Tuesday that the city will pay the
estate of Breonna Taylor $12 million and install police changes, as part
of a legal settlement with her family. Ms. Taylor was killed by police
during a raid on her apartment in March. Photo: Bryan Woolston/Reuters
Last week, the city of Louisville said it would pay $12 million to Ms.
Taylor’s estate as part of a legal settlement with her family. The
agreement also required the city to implement policy changes, including
a mandate for police commanders to approve all search warrants.
Mr. Cameron said he would create a task force to review the process for
securing and executing search warrants. And he said that while Ms.
Taylor’s death was a tragedy, he said his job was to set aside emotions
and investigate facts.
“There is no doubt that this is a gut-wrenching, emotional case, and the
pain that many people are feeling is understandable,” he said.
—Cameron McWhirter and Sabrina Siddiqui contributed to this article.
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