Breonna Taylor Decision Live Updates: One Officer Charged, but Not for Her Death

Breonna Taylor Live Updates: Officer Charged With Wanton Endangerment


Two officers who fired the shots that hit Ms. Taylor were not charged.

A grand jury indicted a former Louisville police detective on Wednesday for endangering Breonna Taylor’s neighbors by recklessly firing his gun during a raid on her apartment in March. No officer was charged with killing Ms. Taylor.

Grand jurors indicted Brett Hankison, the former detective, on three counts of “wanton endangerment,” saying he had threatened three people’s lives by firing bullets that traveled through Ms. Taylor’s apartment and into theirs. A pregnant woman, her husband and their 5-year-old child were asleep in that apartment, and the bullets shattered a glass door but did not harm the couple and their child.

Mr. Hankison had fired into the sliding glass patio door and window of Ms. Taylor’s apartment building, both of which were covered with blinds, in violation of a department policy that requires officers to have a line of sight. He is the only one of the three officers who was dismissed from the force, with a termination letter stating that he showed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

In a news conference following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision, Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, said that he knew some people would not be satisfied with the result.

“The decision before my office is not to decide if the loss of Breonna Taylor’s life was a tragedy — the answer to that question is unequivocally yes,” Mr. Cameron said.

He later added: “If we simply act on outrage, there is no justice — mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”

The decision came after more than 100 days of protests and a monthslong investigation into the death of Ms. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician who was shot at least five times in the hallway of her apartment by officers executing a search warrant.

Because the officers did not shoot first — it was the young woman’s boyfriend who opened fire, striking one officer in the leg; he has said he mistook the police for intruders — many legal experts had thought it unlikely the officers would be indicted in her death.

Three officers fired a total of 32 shots, Mr. Cameron said. Rounds fired by Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove struck Ms. Taylor, he said, while Detective Hankinson, the only officer who has been charged, fired 10 rounds, none of which struck Ms. Taylor.

Ms. Taylor’s name and image have become part of the national movement over racial injustice since May, when her case began to draw national attention. Celebrities have written open letters and erected billboards demanding that the white officers be criminally charged for the death of a young Black woman. City and state officials feared that a grand jury decision not to prosecute the officers would inflame a city that has been roiled by demonstrations that have sometimes turned violent.

Ms. Taylor’s mother sued the city of Louisville for wrongful death and received a $12 million settlement last week. But she and her lawyers have insisted that nothing short of murder charges for all three officers would be enough, a demand taken up by thousands of protesters in Kentucky and across the country.

Ben Crump, a lawyer for the family, wrote on Twitter that the failure to charge any officer for killing Ms. Taylor was “outrageous and offensive.”

Many legal experts said before the charges were announced that indictments for killing Ms. Taylor would be unlikely, given the state’s statute allowing citizens to use lethal force in self-defense. John W. Stewart, a former assistant attorney general in Kentucky, said he believed that at least two of the officers who opened fire were protected by that law.

“As an African-American, as someone who has been victim of police misconduct myself, getting pulled over and profiled, I know how people feel,” Mr. Stewart said. “I have been there, but I have also been a prosecutor, and emotions cannot play a part here.”

Sergeant Mattingly sent an email to officers this week saying that he and the other officers in the botched raid had done “the legal, moral and ethical thing that night.”

Protesters gathered in downtown Louisville shrieked in disgust after the charges in the Breonna Taylor case were announced. They were particularly upset that the only officer charged was required to post a bond of just $15,000.

After the announcement, which the protesters listened to live, ended with only one officer charged, people yelled “That’s it?”

Some people swore. One person called for the crowd to burn the city down. Several people sobbed and had to be consoled.

One woman sitting on a chair with a T-shirt printed with Ms. Taylor’s image had to be consoled by several people.

“It tells people, cops can kill you in the sanctity of your own home,” Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist, said as she wiped tears from her face.

Desaray Yarbrough, who lives in Louisville and came out of her house when the march came by, said the attorney general’s announcement would do nothing to quell angry demonstrators.

“It’s unjustifiable,” Ms. Yarbrough said. “The lack of charges is getting ready to bring the city down.”

Protesters started marching through the streets shortly after the decision was announced, as a helicopter buzzed overhead.

For about 10 minutes, a group of about 150 protesters blocked the intersection of Broadway and 6th Street, just outside the barricade.

Protesters argued with angry drivers who had their way blocked. Most cars turned around at the direction of the protesters who stood in their way.

Within minutes, more than a dozen police officers arrived, and the protesters continued down Broadway.

Block by block, the police caravan followed. Some, armed with assault rifles, stood by their vehicles.

After protesters marched loudly but peacefully through the streets for more than two hours, they were stopped by a line of officers in riot gear in the Highlands section of town.

After a standoff of a few minutes, officers, without any seeming physical provocation, began charging into protesters and forcing them back. Some used batons to push protesters. A chemical agent released by the police left a burning, peppery scent in the air.

Officers began grabbing some demonstrators and forcing them to the ground to arrest them. An officer said on a loud speaker that the assembly had been declared unlawful and told people to disperse or they could be arrested.

A local entrepreneur who goes by the name Scoota Truth, 35, joined the march through the city Wednesday and said it was time to see real change.

‪”If anyone can get killed how Breonna got killed by the police, there’s no way we should live in a society where that’s possible,” he said.

The officer is charged with ‘wanton endangerment.’ What does that mean?

The grand jury indicted Mr. Hankison for three counts of “wanton endangerment in the first degree,” a felony that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison for each count if he is found guilty.

Mr. Cameron, the Kentucky attorney general who will now oversee the prosecution of Mr. Hankison, said the former detective had been charged with the crimes because the grand jury believed that the shots he fired had endangered three people in an apartment next to Ms. Taylor’s.

Mr. Hankison is charged with one count for each of the apartment’s occupants: a pregnant woman, her husband and their 5-year-old child, who were asleep and who were not hit by the shots.

Under Kentucky law, a person is guilty of the crime when “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.”

Mr. Cameron said on Wednesday that the F.B.I. was still investigating whether any of the officers committed a federal crime, such as violating Ms. Taylor’s civil rights.

At his news conference, Attorney General Cameron made public a number of new details about the shooting and the investigation. Here are some of the most notable.

  • The F.B.I. laboratory in Quantico, Va., reviewed the ballistics evidence and concluded that the shot that proved fatal was fired by Detective Cosgrove. A Kentucky lab examining the same evidence said it could not determine who had fired the fatal shot; Mr. Cameron said he could not explain the discrepancy.

  • A total of 32 shots were fired by the police: 16 by Detective Cosgrove, 10 by Detective Hankinson and six by Sergeant Mattingly.

  • Sergeant Mattingly, who was wounded in the shooting, was hit by a 9-millimeter round fired by Kenneth Walker, Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend, and not by a shot fired by one of the officers, who were using .40 caliber handguns, Mr. Cameron said.

  • The attorney general said the grand jury investigation confirmed that the police had properly knocked and announced their presence before bursting in to Ms. Taylor’s apartment — a point disputed by Mr. Walker and by a number of neighbors who have said in interviews with reporters that they heard no announcement.

Other cities are bracing for protests, with Chicago’s mayor calling for a moment of silence.

Louisville police officers placed barricades around downtown this week in anticipation of the grand jury’s decision, and Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat, issued a state of emergency order on Tuesday in anticipation of possible “civil unrest” following the announcement. A local judge also signed an order shutting down the federal courthouse in downtown.

But anger over Ms. Taylor’s killing has spread far from Louisville, and officials in other states were also preparing for protests and possible unrest after the announcement.

In Chicago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and the city’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, called the grand jury’s decision an injustice, but urged residents to keep protests peaceful.

“The grand jury’s lesser charge of a single officer does not address the loss of her life,” Mr. Pritzker said. “Not nearly. This is, to put it simply, a gross miscarriage of justice.”

Ms. Lightfoot said many mothers of children killed in gun violence in Chicago share the pain of Taylor’s mother.

“Nothing will repair the hole in her heart for the loss of her precious child,” the mayor said. “Too many mother’s in Chicago know all too well the same pain, and we extend our condolences to Ms. Palmer and her entire family.”

Ms. Lightfoot called the grand jury’s decision “absolutely heartbreaking” and said, “Rulings like this one set us back.” She urged residents to join in a moment of silence at 7 p.m. Central time on Wednesday, “in honor of the family’s request for peace.”

She added, “Come out on your front porch, stand in your yard or your sidewalk or wherever you are, but please do.”

Protests were planned for Wednesday evening at the county courthouse in Milwaukee and at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., among other places nationwide. In New York City, at least two protests are scheduled: one in Union Square in Manhattan and another at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Police officers with a ‘no-knock’ warrant broke down Ms. Taylor’s door.

The officers who broke down Ms. Taylor’s door shortly after midnight on March 13 had come with a search warrant, signed by a local magistrate. They had court approval for a “no-knock” warrant, which Louisville has since banned, but the orders were changed before the raid, requiring them to knock first and announce themselves as the police.

Mr. Walker has said that he and Ms. Taylor did not know who was at her door. Only one neighbor, out of nearly a dozen, reported hearing the officers shout “police” before entering.

The warrant for Ms. Taylor’s apartment was one of five issued in a case involving her ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, who is accused of running a drug trafficking syndicate. At the other addresses that were searched, officers found a table covered in drugs packaged for sale, including a plastic sachet containing cocaine and fentanyl, police logs and a laboratory report show.

The surveillance leading police officers to Ms. Taylor’s home included a GPS tracker showing repeated trips by Mr. Glover to her home; photographs of him emerging from her apartment with a package in his hands; footage showing her in a car with Mr. Glover arriving at one of the trap houses he operated; and his use of her address on bank records and other documents.

The F.B.I. has opened an investigation into whether the inclusion of her name and address on the warrant violated her civil rights, as her family’s lawyers have claimed.

For months, Ms. Taylor’s death has been a rallying cry. Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, called out her name during the Democratic National Convention. Oprah Winfrey paid for billboards demanding the officers be charged, writing in her magazine, “We have to use whatever megaphone we can.”

Frustration has mounted in Louisville at the pace of the investigation into the fatal shooting. That frustration has been compounded by a city administration that refused to release basic records — including her autopsy and the body camera footage of officers who responded to the shooting — and that made inexplicable errors in some of the documents it did release, including a report incorrectly claiming that she had not been injured and that the door to her apartment was never breached.

Mr. Cameron, a Republican attorney general who ran on a law-and-order platform, had to navigate both the demands of protesters and the constraints of the law, said Frank Mascagni III, a former assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Louisville.

“My city is going to blow up if these three men are not charged,” said Mr. Mascagni, who believes that the officers’ actions are protected under the law. “I’m very nervous for what I think is going to occur.”

Who are the four officers involved in the Taylor case?

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, 47, a 20-year veteran of the Louisville Metro Police Department, had spent the last four years in the narcotics division.

After officers knocked down the door to Ms. Taylor’s apartment, Sergeant Mattingly was the first officer to step inside. According to a statement he gave to investigators, he said that he saw a male and a female figure standing at the end of a hallway.

The male figure, who was Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was standing with his hands stretched out, holding a gun, Sergeant Mattingly said. “My mind’s going, this ain’t right.”

When Mr. Walker fired, Sergeant Mattingly said, he felt a sensation of heat in his leg, and then returned fire six times, stumbling over and falling. He had been hit in the femoral artery, with the bullet tearing through his thigh and exiting out the back, according to his statement.

Detective Myles Cosgrove, 42, has been with the Police Department for more than 15 years, including the last three in the narcotics division.

He was the second person inside Ms. Taylor’s apartment after an officer with a battering ram tore the door of its hinges, and fired 16 rounds down the hallway after Mr. Walker shot in the direction of the officers.

Detective Brett Hankison, 44, had been an officer with the department since 2003 and was assigned to the narcotics division. He is the only one of the three officers who opened fire that night with a history of complaints of excessive force, as well as allegations of sexual misconduct.

According to a review of his personnel file obtained by The Times, nearly all of the complaints against him were dismissed or deemed not credible. But one record in his file showed he was reprimanded at least three times, including for causing a car wreck in 2016 that fractured the spine of another officer.

During the shooting, Mr. Hankison was initially positioned behind other officers, but after Mr. Walker opened fire, he ran out of the breezeway into the parking lot and fired at least 10 rounds into the sliding-glass door and window of Ms. Taylor’s apartment.

He is the only one of the three officers who was fired and charged. The police chief at the time said in a public termination letter that Mr. Hankison’s actions “were a shock to the conscience,” and a violation of department policy because he fired without a line of sight, through the covered window and door, which were obscured by blinds.

Detective Joshua Jaynes, 38, has been with the Police Department since 2006, and had recently been assigned to the new Place-Based Investigations Unit, which was created in December 2019.

He prepared the five search warrant affidavits for simultaneous no-knock raids at locations suspected of playing a role in the local drug trade, including Ms. Taylor’s apartment. Lawyers for Ms. Taylor have said that the information tying her apartment to the drug trafficking syndicate was flawed and insufficient.

In the search warrant application, Detective Jaynes claimed that he had spoken to the postal inspector and had confirmed that parcels suspected of being part of the drug trade were being sent to Ms. Taylor’s apartment by an ex-boyfriend.

But Detective Jaynes did not speak directly to the postal inspector himself; he had relied on a neighboring police department to do so, because the Louisville Metro Police Department had a strained relationship with the postal inspector.

Detective Jaynes was placed on administrative reassignment in June amid the investigation into Ms. Taylor’s death, The Louisville Courier Journal reported.

Reporting was contributed by Richard A. Oppel Jr., Derrick Bryson Taylor and Will Wright. Kitty Bennett contributed research.



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