A Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for the killing of Breonna Taylor during a drug raid gone wrong, with prosecutors saying Wednesday that two officers who fired their weapons at the Black woman were justified in using force to protect themselves after they were shot at.
The only charges brought by the grand jury were three counts of wanton endangerment against former Officer Brett Hankison for shooting into a home next to Taylor’s that had people in it. The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in connection with the raid at Taylor’s home on the night of March 13. The wanton endangerment charges each carry a sentence of up to five years.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Wednesday the investigation showed the officers did announce themselves before entering. The warrant used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for Taylor’s family, denounced the decision as “outrageous and offensive,” and protesters shouting, “No justice, no peace!” began marching through the streets. Some sat quietly and wept. Later, scuffles broke out between police and protesters, and some were arrested.
While the rallies were largely peaceful, police in protective gear carrying batons mobilized in downtown, and some scuffles broke out. Officers could be seen handcuffing some people. Police also ordered a group that broke off from the protests to disperse, warning that chemical agents might be used if they didn’t.
Governor Andy Beshear said he authorized a limited deployment of the National Guard and Kentucky State Police to assist if needed.
Beshear also urged Attorney General Cameron to post online all the evidence that could be released without affecting the charges filed.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, hitting Officer Jonathan Mattingly. Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but prosecutors later dropped the charge.
Walker told police he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defense.
Before charges were brought, Hankison was fired from the city’s police department on June 23. A termination letter sent to him by interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said the officer had violated procedures by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” fired his weapon.
Hankison had previously been placed on administrative reassignment, as were Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove and the detective who sought the warrant, Joshua Jaynes.
On September 15, the city settled a lawsuit against the three officers brought by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, agreeing to pay her $12 million and enact police reforms.