A number of athletes expressed frustration about Wednesday’s grand jury decision in Kentucky not to move forward with charges against any officers for their roles in the death of Breonna Taylor.
A grand jury in Louisville indicted one police officer for shooting into neighboring apartments. Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid that resulted in the death of Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, on the night of March 13.
Neither the grand jury nor the presiding judge elaborated on the charges. Bond was set at $15,000 for Hankison.
The FBI still is investigating potential violations of federal law in the case.
Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Taylor’s family, tweeted that the charges involved “NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor. This is outrageous and offensive!”
The WNBA dedicated its season to Taylor and the Say Her Name movement. Before the opening game of the WNBA season in July, the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm held a 26-second moment of silence. Taylor’s name is on the back of team jerseys and has been inked on shoes in both the WNBA and NBA. NFL players were allowed to wear a helmet decal with her name during season openers.
“This is why police need to be defunded and ultimately abolished!” Liberty player Layshia Clarendon posted on Twitter. “We time and time again hope for a sliver of justice but why would we get that when the system is designed to protect the very folks that are murdering and terrorizing us. This isn’t a bad apple, it’s a rotten tree.”
This is why police need to be defunded and ultimately abolished! We time and time again hope for a sliver of justice but why would we get that when the system is designed to protect the very folks that are murdering and terrorizing us. This isn’t a bad apple, it’s a rotten tree.
— Layshia Clarendon (@Layshiac) September 23, 2020
After a $12 million civil settlement was reached between Taylor’s estate and the city of Louisville last week, WNBA players again pushed for the officers’ arrest.
“If it was my sister or my mom or my dad — or, if I have kids one day, any of my kids — I’d be pissed off. Very pissed off,” Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins said Wednesday. “… The biggest thing with that case is understanding that life isn’t fair. We have to understand you don’t always get the things you want. It’s really disappointing because justice should be served for her death, Breonna Taylor, and this movement in general, this Black Lives Matter, and understanding the neglect of not only Black people, but people of color in general.
“The injustices, police brutality and systemic racism and everything of that nature, it’s bigger than just sports or politics or the color of your skin. It’s how you treat people. I was always taught growing up from my mom and my dad, you treat people how you want to be treated. If I treat people how they’ve been treated, then no one respects that and I wouldn’t be where I am today. … We have to do better as a country and as a people.”
“It’s just so demoralizing. It’s so discouraging. I just keep thinking about the generation of American kids, of any color, is this the way we want to raise them? Is this the country we want to live in?” Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Wednesday’s news. “There’s just so much violence, there’s so much shooting. It comes in so many forms, whether it’s school shootings, or vigilantism, or police brutality, neighbor to neighbor. There’s just so much violence, and it’s demoralizing when we can’t be accountable, or hold anyone to account for it.
“The really demoralizing thing is we have a really powerful movement that’s happening. We have so many people who care about this country and so many people who want change and believe in equal justice for Black and brown communities, and yet, we don’t have it. It’s such a tough hill to climb, but this long history of racism that we have in our country continues. And it continues in the form of this kind of violence, state-sanctioned violence, over and over again that we’re seeing. And it’s devastating.”
Other NBA and NFL players took to social media to react to the grand jury news.
“The cops that murdered Breonna Taylor knew this is how it would play out from the moment it happened,” Brooklyn Nets guard Jamal Crawford posted Wednesday on Twitter. “They were never worried about justice being served.”
The cops that murdered Breonna Taylor knew this is how it would play out from the moment it happened. They were never worried about justice being served.
— 🏁 Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) September 23, 2020
I lived in the VILLE for three years of my life and it became another home to me, but wow what’s happen? These are the charges you actually come up with? 😔🤦🏿♂️ Nothing to say but WOW SPEECHLESS!
— Montrezl Harrell (@MONSTATREZZ) September 23, 2020
I don’t have many words right now…. but all I can say is I’m praying for the city of Louisville right now!!! 😔😔
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) September 23, 2020
Wow…can’t even say I’m surprised on how they ruled the Breonna Taylor case…😓
— Davontae Harris (@wichkid) September 23, 2020
“Just crazy,” Watson said. “… And I’ll just speak more about that with my teammates and the people like that, because right now this is definitely a football interview. But, yeah, it was just something that … it’s just crazy, honestly.”
At a news conference Wednesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Hankison and the two other officers who entered Taylor’s apartment announced themselves before entering and did not use a no-knock warrant.
“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Officers [Jonathan] Mattingly and [Myles] Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves,” Cameron said. “This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”
Protesters have consistently pressured the attorney general to act, and celebrities and pro athletes had joined them in calling on him to charge the police who shot Taylor. At one point, demonstrators, including Texans receiver Kenny Stills, converged on his house and were charged with felonies for trying to intimidate the prosecutor. Those charges were later dropped.
Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was killed at approximately 12:40 a.m. on March 13 after police served a search warrant on her apartment for a narcotics investigation. Taylor was not the target of the investigation and had no criminal record.
Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, and his shot hit Mattingly. Walker later said he was afraid that assailants were breaking in. Three officers responded with multiple shots, with six hitting and killing Taylor in her hallway.
Hankison was fired, and Mattingly and Cosgrove were assigned to administrative duties. Joshua Jaynes, the detective who sought the warrant, also was reassigned. The police contend that they announced their presence before breaking in.
“The decision before my office as the special prosecutor in this case was not to decide if the loss of Ms. Taylor’s life was a tragedy,” Cameron said. “The answer to that is unequivocally yes.
“I understand that Breonna Taylor’s death is part of a national story, but the facts and evidence in this case are different than others [involving police shootings]. If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice. Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”
Haskins said he wanted to give himself a day to reflect on the grand jury decision and to figure out what he and his teammates will do.
“People are dying every day and it’s very important for us, but we want to come to an actual change and figure out ways to resonate with people in the community,” Haskins said. “People are looking at us and want our opinion and our perspective. We want to actually have something worth doing, not just doing it because it’s easy to do.
“We want to do the best we can as the Washington Football Team to bring change throughout the country. It’s just tough because you don’t want anyone to die, and you don’t want anyone to be killed for that matter. And to be killed and not to have any justice be served is extremely disappointing. … I can’t be insensitive towards this because I have family and friends who have been through this before. I’ve been through things like this before. It’s tough. It’s hard to deal with.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.