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A grand jury has indicted one officer on criminal charges six months after Breonna Taylor was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky.
Officer Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into neighbouring apartments during the police raid on March 13.
But the grand jury did not move forward with charges against any officers for their role in Ms Taylor’s death.
The 26-year-old was shot several times by police officers after they burst through the door to her apartment.
A so-called “no-knock” warrant that was reportedly used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there. No drugs were found inside.
In open court on Tuesday, Jefferson Circuit Judge Annie O’Connell read the grand jury’s decision to indict Hankison.
But later at a news conference, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron explained that the indictment was in relation to shots fired into neighbouring apartments and not directly in relation to the shooting of Ms Taylor.
Mr Cameron also said the police shots fired in Ms Taylor’s apartment were “justified” under the law.
He said Hankison and the two other officers announced themselves before entering Ms Taylor’s apartment and did not use a no-knock warrant.
Mr Cameron told reporters: “According to Kentucky law, the use of force by (Officers Jonathan Mattingly and (Myles) Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves. This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”
Regarding the inevitable disappointment by those who wanted criminal charges brought in Ms Taylor’s death, he said: “The decision before my office as the special prosecutor in this case was not to decide if the loss of Ms Taylor’s life was a tragedy. The answer to that is unequivocally yes.”
Mr Cameron added: “I understand that Breonna Taylor’s death is part of a national story, but the facts and evidence in this case are different than others” involving police shootings.
“If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice,” Mr Cameron said. “Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”
He added that the FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in the case.
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 is representing Taylor’s family, tweeted that the charges involved “NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor. This is outrageous and offensive!”
Ms Taylor’s death, alongside that of George Floyd, prompted a nationwide wave of protests demanding racial justice and an end to the use of excessive force by law enforcement.
Earlier, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced a 72-hour curfew for the city beginning at 9pm with exceptions for those going to work or to seek medical treatment.
A termination letter sent to him by interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said the white officer had violated procedures by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” shot 10 rounds of gunfire into Ms Taylor’s apartment in March.
Mattingly, Cosgrove and the detective who sought the warrant, Joshua Jaynes, were also placed on administrative reassignment after the shooting.
Ms Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, hitting Mattingly and he was charged with attempted murder of a police officer.
He had told police he heard knocking but did not know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defence.
On September 15, the city settled a lawsuit against the three officers brought by Ms Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, agreeing to pay her $12 million and enact police reforms.
Protesters across the country have been demanding justice for Ms Taylor and other Black people killed by police in recent months.
The release in late May of a 911 call by Ms Taylor’s boyfriend marked the beginning of days of protests in Louisville, fuelled by her shooting and the violent death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
Several prominent US celebrities including Oprah and Beyonce have joined those urging that the officers be charged.
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News – US grand jury indicts police officer over Breonna Taylor shooting