Breonna Taylor grand jury indicts former officer Brett Hankison – but not directly for her death

The grand jury charged the former officer with three counts of "wanton endangerment" for shooting into Taylor's neighbors' apartments.

A grand jury convened in Breonna Taylor’s shooting death decided to press charges against former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison, but not for allegedly killing her during a botched raid. Instead, the officer was charged for allegedly shooting into Taylor’s neighbors’ apartments.

The Jefferson grand jury chose to indict Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree, which carries up to five years in prison. He was previously fired in June for his role in the shooting.

However, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove have not been charged for their alleged involvement in Taylor’s death.

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Attorney General Daniel Cameron held a press conference after the grand jury decision and stated there was “nothing conclusive to say” to indicate that any of Hankison’s bullets struck Taylor. Cameron recognized that not everyone would be satisfied by the charges but “criminal law is not meant to respond to every sorrow and grief, ” and would not bow to any pressure.

“Justice is not often easy and does not fit the mold of public opinion. And it does not conform to shifting standards,” Cameron said. “I know that not everyone will be satisfied with the charges we’ve reported today.

“My team set out to investigate the circumstances surrounding Ms. Taylor’s death. We did it with a singular goal in mind: pursuing the truth. Kentucky deserves no less. The city of Louisville deserves no less. If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice. Mob justice is not justice.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear requested that Cameron publicly release information relating to his office’s investigation into Taylor’s death. Beshear maintained that Kentuckians had a right to know the full details at his daily briefing on Wednesday.

“Post online all information, evidence, facts (Cameron) can release without impacting the three felony counts in the indictment issued today. Everyone can and should be informed,” Beshear said.

The grand jury decision comes more than six months after Taylor died and there have been multiple protests calling for the arrests of the officers involved. A grand jury was convened in Jefferson County earlier this month.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer placed the entire Jefferson County under a 9 p.m. curfew until 6:30 a.m. that will last for the next 72 hours. The only exemptions will be for work, medical assistance and those attending worship.

“We must plan for the potential of large gatherings,” Fischer said. “Our goal is ensuring space and opportunity for people to express their First Amendment rights.”

The LMPD also announced that the National Guard has been activated.

WAVE 3 News reported that local Targets, as far as 20 minutes from Louisville, were beginning to board up their establishments in preparation for the grand jury’s decision. Following the death of George Floyd in May, many of the stores were vandalized.

A state of emergency was first put into place by Fischer on Monday. It was reinforced by a memo from Chief of Police Robert J. Schroeder. Days off and pending vacation requests were canceled as all available officers were needed. Departments were told to have “appropriate level of staffing to provide for public safety services.”

The memo was in conjunction with the LMPD confirming that six officers were under investigation for possibly violating policy in connection with Taylor’s death.  Cosgrove, Mattingly, Tony James, Michael Campbell, Joshua Jaynes, and Michael Nobles are the officers under review and face termination.

Taylor, an EMT technician, died on March 13 after Louisville police entered the home she shared with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker to execute a no knock warrant over the belief there was drug activity. Taylor and Walker, asleep at the time, believed they were being burglarized.

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Walker has a permit to carry a gun and fired a shot, hitting Mattingly in the leg. The cops returned fire and Taylor, 26, was struck eight times and died almost immediately. Hankison shot “blindly,” 10 times during the incident and was fired in June. Cosgrove and Mattingly are on administrative leave, in addition to the officer who applied for the warrant.

Breonna Taylor
Protesters gather last month at Times Square to demand the arrest of the officers responsible for the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Sam Aguiar, one of the lawyers representing Taylor’s family, agonized over the decision before it was made public. He lamented that the city was “on edge,” and that “this should’ve been an easy indictment,” in a social media post.

“Breonna was shot while on the ground and unarmed. Blind shots everywhere. Shots into upstairs apartment with child and grandmother,” Aguiar wrote on Tuesday. “Shots into apartment next to Breonna’s with pregnant mother and child. There’s your damn murder, manslaughter and wanton endangerment.”

As theGrio reported, a $12 million settlement was struck between the city of Louisville and Taylor’s estate last week that includes “significant” police reforms, new drug testing rules for LMPD officers, and an incentive for officers to live in specific neighborhoods. There will also be a requirement that search warrants be approved by commanding officers.

Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, wanted her daughter’s name to continue being spoken and for formal charges to be brought against the officers.

“It is time to move forward with the criminal charges because she deserves that and much more,” Palmer said.

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