Breonna Taylor decision: What is wanton endangerment?


CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A Kentucky grand jury charged former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first-degree Wednesday for firing into Breonna Taylor’s neighbors’ homes on March 13, not for her death.

Taylor, a Black 26-year-old ER technician, was shot multiple times by officers who “breached the door” to her home in the middle of the night while serving a warrant during a narcotics investigation.

“The Grand Jury determined that there is no evidence to support a criminal violation of state law caused Ms. Taylor’s death,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Wednesday. “The Grand Jury found that there was sufficient evidence to indict Detective Hankison for wanton endangerment for firing his weapon outside a sliding glass door and through a bedroom window, with some bullets traveling through that apartment and entering the apartment next door while three residents were at home.”

In Kentucky, first-degree wanton endangerment is a class D felony charge that carries up to five years in prison.

According to the state law in Kentucky:

“A person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.”

NewsNation talked with criminal defense attorney Darryl A. Goldberg to explain the charges.

“Wanton endangerment can be explained like this: you understand a risk, you are aware of it but you consciously disregard it,” said Goldberg. “You know shooting into a closed window can kill whoever might be behind there, so in your decision to do so you are placing little value on human life.”

In statement obtained by NewsNation the FBI said:

“FBI Louisville continues its federal investigation into all aspects of the death of Breonna Taylor. This work will continue beyond the state charges announced today.”

Hankison is one of three officers involved in the shooting. The two other officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not indicted.

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