The findings of a Jefferson County grand jury inquiry into the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor by police was released today to determine if there would be criminal charges for the officers involved. Former officer Brett Hankinson will face criminal charges of wanton endangerment in the first degree.
The charge of wanton endangerment was for Hankinson's "blindly" shooting in the wake of gunfire from inside the home and return fire by his fellow officers, Mattingly and Cosgrove. He fired indeterminately into neighbouring apartments. Though no one was hit, bullets breached walls into nearby homes. None of his fire hit Taylor.
It was discovered through two, separate, independent investigations that "Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their use of force," Kent. Attorney General Daniel Cameron said, speaking after the grand jury indictment against Hankinson was issued. He said that there was no body camera footage, and that "video footage begins when area patrol officers arrived at the location."
"Evidence shows that officers both knocked and announced their presence at the apartment," Cameron said. An independent witness corroborated this, and Cameron said that "the warrant was not served as a 'no-knock' warrant."
Mattingly was the only one who entered the apartment, and he identified two individuals standing in the hallway. The man was holding a gun, and he saw the gun fire, "heard a boom," and that Mattingly was shot by Mr. Walker, Ms. Taylor's boyfriend.
Mattingly shot back, with six shots. Cosgrove shot as well, a total of 16 times. Six bullets hit Ms. Taylor, and one shot was fatal. Cameron asked the FBI crime lab to look into the shooting, and they found that "the fatal shot was fired by Mr. Cosgrove." This was as a result of an independent investigation. Neither Mattingly nor Cosgrove will face charges in Taylor's death.
Hankinson is being held on $15,000, and a warrant was issued. The charges stem from his having "blindly" fired shots that went through walls and into other apartments as well. He was not charged with having struck Taylor, who was killed at her home in Louisville on March 13 of this year. The other officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove were not indicted.
Prior to the release of the verdict, it was reported that the National Guard was called into the city. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer imposed a curfew for this evening in advance of the grand jury verdict.
The three officers involved in the fatal March shooting are no longer employed in that capacity. The three officers were first reassigned to administrative positions, although Brett Hankison was later fired.
Hankison was released from duty for having fired ten shots "blindly" into Taylor's home from outside the door. Sgt. Jon Mattingly was injured in the shooting, though he later recovered, after Taylor's boyfriend fired his weapon, believing that the officers who were entering his home were home invaders.
In the lead up to the release of the grand jury decision, Louisville Metro Police Department Interim Chief of Police Robert Schroeder declared a state of emergency for all members of law enforcement. Vacation days and time off were collectively cancelled as the city held its breath in anticipation of the news. Schroeder is slated to retire on Oct. 1 and will be replaced as Interim Chief of Police Yvette Gentry.
Last night, Louisville was reported to be eerily quiet. Businesses were shut down and for the most part, people were not out in the street. There was concern from local law enforcement that rioting and unrest could follow a verdict that stated the officers would not face criminal charges.
Riots rocked the city of Louisville this year in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody on May 25. As unrest grew due to that police shooting, Breonna Taylor's name was added to the calls for justice and police defunding across the country and the world. Taylor was sleeping at the time she was killed.
A settlement was recently reached between Taylor's family and the city, wherein the family would receive $12 million, the largest ever settlement in Louisville history. The agreement includes mandated reforms to policing including the dispensation of the no-knock warrant, which is what was reported to have been served when officers went to Taylor's home in March, though the AG's words today negated that. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul introduced legislation in the US Senate to ban this kind of warrant with the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act.
Memorials for Taylor have been erected in downtown Louisville.