A Kentucky grand jury on Wednesday indicted one police officer for shooting into neighboring apartments but did not move forward with charges against any officers for their role in Breonna Taylor’s death.
A grand jury in Louisville 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. Bond was set at $15,000 for Hankison.
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 was 26 at the time she was killed. Her 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.
“We are dedicating this season to Breonna Taylor, an outstanding EMT who was murdered over 130 days ago in her home,” Liberty player Layshia Clarendon said in July.
Clarendon was among athletes from the WNBA, NBA and NFL to express frustration about the grand jury decision.
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, WNBA players again pushed for the officers’ arrest.
“This is a step. But this isn’t what our goal was,” Los Angeles Sparks player Candace Parker said. “And obviously, we wear Breonna Taylor’s name on the back of our jersey, but she represents so many other women that have been killed because of police brutality. You know, as a mother, there’s no amount of money, no amount of money, that could take that [loss] away. So I don’t think that does anything.”
NBA players dedicated their post-game interviews to Taylor.
“I want to continue to shed light on justice for Breonna Taylor and to her family and everything that’s going on with that situation,” Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James said at a news conference in July from the NBA bubble in Florida. He added: “We want the cops arrested who committed that crime.”
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
At a news conference, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Hankison and the two other officers who entered Taylor’s apartment announced themselves before entering the apartment 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 Houston 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, a 26-year-old emergency medical worker, was killed at approximately 12:40 a.m. on March 13 after police served a no-knock search warrant on her apartment for a narcotics investigation. Taylor, who is Black, was not the target of the investigation and had no criminal record.
Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, hitting Mattingly. Walker later said he was afraid 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.”
Added Cameron: “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,” Cameron said. “Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”
He added that the FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in the case.
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 and enact police reforms.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.