LOUISVILLE, Ky. (NewsNation Now) — A Kentucky grand jury considering the March killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, in her home voted on Wednesday to indict one of three white police officers for wanton endangerment, the state’s attorney general said.
The officer indicted was Detective Brett Hankison, who faces up to five years in prison if convicted, Attorney General Daniel Cameron said at a news conference.
“The Grand Jury determined that there is no evidence to support a criminal violation of state law caused Ms. Taylor’s death. 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,” Cameron said.
Hankison was with two colleagues when they shot into the apartment of Taylor, 26, killing her in front of her boyfriend.
The two other officers, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not charged because the investigation showed that under Kentucky law they “were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Taylor’s boyfriend, Cameron said.
“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by (Officers Jonathan) Mattingly and (Myles) Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves,” he said. “This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”
When asked how long it took for the grand jury to make their decision Cameron said:
“The grand jury was presented with the information today. They started early Monday and concluded sometime before noon. They heard everything they needed to hear. We didn’t withhold anything from them.”
Taylor’s death, alongside that of George Floyd, a Black man who died in May after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, helped spark a nationwide wave of protests demanding racial justice and an end to the use of excessive force by law enforcement.
Immediately after the announcement, people were expressing frustration that the grand jury did not do more.
“Justice has NOT been served,” tweeted Linda Sarsour of Until Freedom, a group that has pushed for charges in the case. “Rise UP. All across this country. Everywhere. Rise up for #BreonnaTaylor.”
Attorney Ben Crump, who represents Taylor’s family, tweeted that the lack of charges directly related to Breonna Taylor’s death is “outrageous and offensive.”
Ahead of the announcement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced a 72-hour curfew for the city beginning at 9 p.m., with exceptions for those going to work or to seek medical treatment. “I urge everybody to choose peaceful and lawful protest,” Fischer, a white Democrat, said shortly before the announcement. “This is obviously a really important time for our city. I want us to think about our kids and our grandkids and get this right.”
In creating his account of Taylor’s death, the attorney general said his investigators had no video footage from the shooting.
“Therefore, the sequence of events had to be pieced together through ballistics evidence, 911 calls, police radio traffic and interviews,” Cameron said.
The three officers involved did not take part in the obtaining of the warrant, he said. They knocked on Taylor’s apartment door and announced their presence outside, which Cameron said was corroborated by a neighbor who witnessed the arrival. Getting no answer, they “breached the door.”
“The warrant was not served as a no-knock warrant,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said
Mattingly entered first, and at the end of a corridor saw Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, with Walker pointing a gun.
Walker fired, injuring Mattingly in the thigh. Mattingly returned fire, and his colleagues began shooting soon after, Cameron said. Hankison fired 10 bullets, Cameron said.
Six bullets hit Taylor, though there is no “conclusive” evidence that any came from Hankinson’s gun, Cameron said. Bullets fired by Hankison traveled into a neighboring apartment.
In June, the Louisville Metro Police Department fired Hankison. Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder, who is retiring on Oct. 1, wrote in the termination notice that Hankison “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired” into Taylor’s home.
The department reassigned the two other officers to administrative duties.
Louisville police obtained the warrant to enter Taylor’s apartment from a judge as part of an investigation into a drug ring at another house elsewhere in Louisville. They told the judge that they believed that one of the men suspected of selling drugs had used Taylor’s apartment to receive packages.
Taylor had previously dated a suspected drug seller but had severed ties with him, according to her family.
Walker was charged with the attempted murder of a police officer, but prosecutors later dropped the charge. His lawyer has said there is evidence the bullet in Mattingly’s thigh was shot by one of his colleagues, not by Walker, but Cameron disputed this on Wednesday, citing the 9mm caliber of the bullet found in Mattingly’s thigh; Cameron said the officers’ service weapons were 40 caliber handguns.
Walker told police he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defense.
Images of Taylor have become a familiar sight at the daily protests against police violence in cities across the United States. Last month, the influential actress and television mogul Oprah Winfrey featured an image of Taylor on the cover of O, the Oprah Magazine, calling for prosecution of the police who killed her.
Louisville has agreed to pay $12 million to Taylor’s family to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit, Mayor Fischer announced earlier this month.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and state leaders held a press conference reacting to the Grand Jury report. Gov. Beshear requested the Attorney General “Post online all the information, facts, and evidence he can release without impacting the three felony counts in the indictment issued today. Everyone can and should be informed. And those that are currently feeling frustration, feeling hurt they deserve to know more. I trust Kentuckians—they deserve to see the facts for themselves.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.