EMT and aspiring nurse Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot to death by police in her own home on March 13. In what has been described as a “botched raid,” officers barged into Breonna Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, as she lay sleeping, and fired multiple rounds. Months after she was senselessly killed, Breonna Taylor’s name has been chanted all over the country at mass protests against racist police brutality, which erupted after the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, also at the hands of police. On September 23 — over six months after Breonna Taylor was killed — just one of the officers involved in the shooting was indicted by a grand jury. Officer Brett Hankison faces three charges of wanton endangerment, a class D felony that carries a penalty of one to five years in prison.
Breonna Taylor was shot eight times by law enforcement. According to a lawsuit filed by her family, plainclothes police officers arrived at Breonna Taylor’s apartment at around 12:30 a.m. on March 13. Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep in a bedroom and woke up suddenly, believing that someone was breaking in. Police officers — later identified as Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove — entered “without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers,” the lawsuit says. LMPD insists they “knocked on the door several times and announced their presence as police who were there with a search warrant.” The lawsuit contends that multiple neighbors gave statements contradicting this claim.
“While police may claim to have identified themselves, they did not. Mr. Walker again heard a large bang on the door,” Walker’s attorney wrote in a motion. “Again, when he inquired there was no response that there was police outside. At this point, the door suddenly explodes. Counsel believes that police hit the door with a battering ram.” In the interrogation audio, Walker said the door “came off its hinges.”
Breonna Taylor’s mother told the Washington Post that she had received a call from Walker, who said someone was trying to break into the apartment before shouting, “I think they shot Breonna.” According to his attorney, Walker fired a shot in self-defense and struck an officer in the leg. Walker is a licensed firearm carrier. In response, police opened fire, shooting more than 20 rounds into Breonna Taylor’s home, striking objects in the living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway, bathroom, and both bedrooms. Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
On September 23, a grand jury indicted Officer Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment, not for the death of Breonna Taylor.
In early September, Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron convened a grand jury to review Breonna Taylor’s case. Ahead of the decision, LMPD declared a state of emergency, as did Louisville mayor Greg Fischer, who declared a state of emergency for the city “due to the potential for civil unrest.”
On September 23, it was announced that the grand jury had indicted only one officer, Brett Hankison, on three criminal charges of wanton endangerment. It is a Class D felony in Kentucky, the least serious class of felonies in the state, carrying a possible sentence of one to five years in prison and maximum fines of $10,000. Once arrested, Hankison will be held on a $15,000 bond.
The wanton-endangerment charges are reportedly not even related to Breonna Taylor’s killing but to Hankison’s shooting his gun ten times into neighboring apartments, referred to in the indictment by the occupants’ initials, “C.D.” “T.M.,” and “Z.F.” Taylor’s initials do not appear in the document. Hankison had reportedly fired through a sliding glass door into multiple apartments including Taylor’s, and inside one was a pregnant woman.
The two other officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, were not indicted; the grand jury found they were justified in their use of force because of “self-defense.” In his press conference announcing the charges, Cameron said the investigation found that Cosgrove, who fired his gun 16 times in total, fired the shots that killed Breonna Taylor. Cosgrove remains employed by LMPD.
#Justice4Breonna #BreonnaTaylor #SayHerName #BreeWay
Until Freedom founders and leaders have a proven track record of two decades of collective work in criminal justice reform, gun violence prevention, immigrant rights and cultural engagement. Their expertise lies in the areas of strategic campaign development, social media communications, mobilization, building grassroots support, media advocacy and policy reform.
The Until Freedom team uprooted and moved to Louisville in June 2020, organizing day in and day out until those responsible for Breonna Taylor’s murder are held accountable and that the systems and those in power understand that we will fight for Black women with all that we have because they are worthy. “We are not playing games. We don’t just talk. We organize. We are ready to sacrifice time with our families, our careers to stand by what we believe in.” said co-founder Tamika Mallory.
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Until the land of the free, includes you and me.
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