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Just One Police Officer Indicted in Breonna Taylor Case, but Not for Her Death

A grand jury presented its findings to a judge Wednesday afternoon about whether the three police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna should face criminal charges.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CN) — Only one of the police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor will be criminally charged after a grand jury presented its findings on the case to a judge on Wednesday afternoon.

Brett Hankinson has been indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced the decision in a 1:30 press conference that came eight days after the city of Louisville reached a $12 million civil settlement with Taylor’s estate.

Hankinson’s charges stem from shots he fired into adjacent apartments and are not specifically related to Taylor’s death.

His cash bond was set at $15,000.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed in her apartment on March 13 after police allegedly executed a no-knock search warrant in connection to a drug investigation involving her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.

Hankison, one of the three officers involved in the shooting, was fired in June. Though the boyfriend Walker fired a single shot at police during the incident, he claimed in a lawsuit earlier this month that Kentucky’s “stand your ground law” protects him from any criminal liability as he acted in self-defense.

Cameron gave a lengthy statement Wednesday, and said he met with Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer,before the grand jury presented its findings.

“The decision before my office as the special prosecutor,” he said, “was not to decide if the loss of Ms. Taylor’s life was a tragedy. The answer to that question is unequivocally yes.”

Cameron said his team used ballistics evidence, 911 calls and interviews to piece together the night of the shooting, and also worked with the FBI to arrive at their conclusions.

In a departure from previous reporting, Cameron said the officers knocked and announced their presence at Taylor’s apartment, and only breached the door once they received no response from the individuals inside.

This undated photo provided by Taylor family attorney Sam Aguiar shows Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. (Courtesy of Taylor Family attorney Sam Aguiar)

He said this information was corroborated by an independent witness and reiterated that the warrant was not executed as a “no-knock” warrant.

The officers only fired at Walker and Taylor after Walker shot and wounded Mattingly, according to Cameron.

“Our investigation,” he said, “found that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker.”

Cameron told members of the media he knows that “not everyone will be satisfied” but stressed that he and his team sought the truth.

“If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice,” he said. “Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”

The ACLU released the following statement after the grand jury’s decision.

“Today’s decision is not accountability and not close to justice,” Carl Takei, senior ACLU staff attorney said. “Justice would have been LMPD officers never shooting Breonna Taylor in the first place. The choice to bring these charges alone, and so late, highlights the indifference to human life shown by everyone involved in Breonna Taylor’s murder.

“We will continue to fight alongside the members of the Louisville community and the larger movement to shift power and resources away from the racist and unjust institution of policing that regularly terrorizes our communities and the lives of those that we love,” Takei said.

Barriers were erected and several streets were blocked off in downtown Louisville Tuesday morning in anticipation of Wednesday’s announcement.

Additionally, the Jefferson County circuit, family, and district courts announced they would be closed from 11:30 p.m. Tuesday through the weekend.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer put a 9 p.m. curfew in place through Friday night, and said the emergency measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of the city’s residents.

“My hope,” Fischer said in a video statement Tuesday, “is that we will continue to see peaceful, lawful protests, which is what we have seen the vast majority of these last 100-plus days and nights.”

According to the Louisville Metro Police Department, the National Guard had been activated to help deal with any unrest.

Protesters gathered downtown through the early afternoon, and many expressed grief and outrage when the charges against Hankinson were announced.

“We have a long road ahead,” Cameron said, “as we address the pain in the Louisville community. I am committed to being part of the healing process.”

During his press conference, Cameron also announced the creation of a task force to review and reform the process of obtaining and executing search warrants throughout Kentucky.

“I choose the side of justice,” he said. “I choose the side of truth. I choose a path that moves the commonwealth forward and towards peace.”

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Categories / Civil Rights, Criminal, Government

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