Phillip M. Bailey
| Louisville Courier Journal
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky grand jury has indicted former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.
The two other officers involved in the shooting, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not indicted.
A wanton endangerment charge is a class D felony and carries a penalty of one to five years in prison. The charges read by Judge Annie O’Connell on Wednesday said that Hankison “wantonly shot a gun” into three apartments.
The occupants of those apartments were identified by initials. None of them were BT — Breonna Taylor. That means the grand jury didn’t find that Hankison wantonly fired into her apartment.
The judge set a $15,000 cash bond for Hankison.
The announcement comes after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office presented its findings to the jury earlier this week. His team has been investigating the Taylor shooting since May.
In anticipation of Cameron’s announcement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer invoked a 72-hour curfew, effective Wednesday night, from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. A week ago, Fischer announced the city agreed to a $12 million settlement with Breonna Taylor’s family that includes more than a dozen police reforms.
The uncertainty swirling around the decision on possible criminal charges in Taylor’s death has drawn both local and international attention as protesters have marched and chanted on Louisville’s streets for 119 consecutive days.
Protesters in Louisville and supporters across the U.S. have called for “justice for Breonna” and other Black Americans, such as George Floyd in Minneapolis, who have been killed by police.
Taylor’s death and the ensuing protests have been showcased in news reports and in public statements by celebrities, athletes, sports leagues and politicians from Joe Biden to Beyonce to LeBron James, all calling for justice and the arrest of the officers who the unarmed Louisville woman.
Mattingly, Cosgrove and Hankison have faced intense public scrutiny — and threats — in the six months since Taylor died and her case gained national attention.
Mattingly, who was shot during the raid, and Cosgrove have been on administrative reassignment since March. Hankison, meanwhile, was fired in June after the interim police chief determined the evidence showed he fired indiscriminately into Taylor’s apartment.
Mattingly and Cosgrove, as well as four other LMPD officers, still face an internal investigation for possible violations of department policy in the Taylor shooting that could potentially cost them their job.
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Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician, was killed after officers used a “no-knock” search warrant at her apartment shortly before 1 a.m. on March 13, looking for drugs and cash as part of a larger narcotics investigation connected to her former boyfriend.
When the door burst open, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a single shot from his Glock handgun. Police said that round hit Mattingly in the thigh, severing an artery.
Mattingly, Cosgrove and Hankison fired more than two dozen rounds in response, spraying the apartment and hitting Taylor five times. Taylor, who was unarmed, died in her hallway.
Walker has since filed a lawsuit against the department, arguing he is a victim of police misconduct and seeking immunity from prosecution.
Cameron’s office obtained the police department’s Public Integrity Unit investigation into the officers’ conduct on May 20. The duration of the investigation prompted questions from public officials and impatience from onlookers demanding justice for Taylor.
Cameron has said his office was conducting a thorough investigation “to make sure that no stone is left unturned.”
The FBI is also investigating Taylor’s death.
Phillip M. Bailey for USA TODAY, @phillipmbailey. Tessa Duvall, @TessaDuvall, and Darcy Costello, @dctello, for the Louisville Courier Journal.
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