Kentucky grand jury indicts 1 officer, but no direct charges in police killing of Breonna Taylor

A Kentucky grand jury on Wednesday indicted a single police officer for shooting into neighbouring apartments but did not move forward with charges against any officers for their role in Breonna Taylor’s death.

The 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.

Taylor, a Black emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by officers who entered her home using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation on March 13. 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.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has scheduled a news conference for this afternoon to discuss the grand jury’s decision. 

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

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

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 Taylor’s apartment in March.

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

WATCH | Louisville settles with Breonna Taylor’s family for $12M, vows policing changes:

Taylor’s 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 told police he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defence.

On Sept. 15, the city settled a lawsuit against the three officers brought by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, agreeing to pay her $12 million US ($16 million Cdn) and enact police reforms.

Protesters in Louisville and across the country have demanded justice for Taylor and other Black people killed by police in recent months.

The release in late May of a 911 call by Taylor’s boyfriend marked the beginning of days of protests in Louisville, fuelled by her shooting and the violent death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

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