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Posted on September 23, 2020, at 1:48 p.m. ET
A Kentucky grand jury announced on Wednesday that one of the three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor will be charged not in connection with her death but for shooting into neighbors’ apartments.
Louisville Police Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree for firing his weapon into the three apartments, Circuit Judge Annie O’Connell announced in an online hearing.
The grand jury announcement explained the charges as “manifesting extreme indifference to human life, [Hankison] wantonly shot a gun” into apartments owned by individuals with initials CE, CI, and ZF.
Wanton endangerment in the first degree is a Class D felony in Kentucky, with each charge punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
This week, much of downtown Louisville has been shut down by police in anticipation of a decision on charges. On Tuesday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer declared a state of emergency “due to the potential for civil unrest,” giving him the ability to implement a curfew.
One of the other three officers involved in Taylor’s death, Sgt. Jon Mattingly, wrote an email to his colleagues on Tuesday that he and the other two officers did “the legal, moral and ethical thing that night.”
“You DO NOT DESERVE to be in this position,” wrote Mattingly to his fellow LMPD officers, according to WAVE3 news who printed the email in full. “The position that allows thugs to get in your face and yell, curse and degrade you. Throw bricks, bottles and urine on you and expect you to do nothing.”
The death of Taylor, an unarmed Black woman killed in March by Louisville police officers who stormed the home in which she was sleeping, proved one of the catalysts for a summer of sweeping Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
There have also been consistent calls both in Kentucky and across the country for authorities to charge the officers in connection with her death.
Louisville authorities have used extreme violence to try and stop protests, including when police officers and the Kentucky National Guard shot into a crowd of protesters in June and killed beloved local barbecue chef David McAtee. Police also shot a reporter with pepper balls, a type of rubber bullet, while she was live on air, and shot at a man through a window who filmed them tackling protesters.
Officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department shot and killed Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, just before 1 a.m. on March 13, while executing a search warrant where officers do not have to knock or alert occupants to the raid. The warrant was part of a drug investigation and the person police were looking for had already been detained.
Police officers claim they knocked upon arrival at the apartment Taylor and boyfriend Kenneth Walker shared, but family disputes their account saying police rammed down the door without warning.
Taylor and Walker were asleep in bed when police arrived. Walker believed they were experiencing a break-in, and shot Mattingly in the leg. In response, police shot about 20 rounds, hitting Taylor at least eight times, killing her.
After Taylor’s death, the Louisville Council banned “no-knock warrants” by its police force and now require body cameras when executing search warrants, as part of a bill called “Breonna’s Law.”
Activists, particularly high-profile Black women, fought to ensure her death was not forgotten. The phrase “arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” became such a part of the cultural lexicon that it appeared on t-shirts and in memes. Rihanna tagged the Kentucky Attorney General on her Instagram account calling for him to arrest Taylor’s killers, and Beyoncé wrote a letter to him asking him to bring criminal charges against the three officers involved and investigate the Louisville Police Department’s handling of her death.
Naomi Osaka wore a Breonna Taylor mask during the recent US Open. During Sunday night’s Emmy awards, Regina King wore a t-shirt with Taylor’s face on it and Uzo Aduba wore one emblazoned with her name.
Taylor even appeared on the front cover of Oprah magazine — the first time Oprah Winfrey had given up the cover for someone else. The talkshow host also put up 26 billboards around Louisville — one for each of Taylor’s years on earth — calling for the police to be arrested and charged.
The Kentucky attorney general began investigating the case in May, two months after Taylor’s death. The FBI is also investigating.
The City of Louisville agreed this month to pay $12 million to Taylor’s family as part of a wrongful death settlement.
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News – A Louisville Cop Was Charged With Firing Into Breonna Taylor’s Neighbors’ Apartments