Breonna Taylor decision: What is wanton endangerment, the charge one Louisville officer faces?

Ryan W. Miller

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One of three officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor was charged with first-degree wanton endangerment, a felony charge in Kentucky that carries up to five years in prison.

A Kentucky grand jury indicted former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, while two other officers involved in the shooting, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not indicted.

Activists and Taylor’s family called for harsher charges, including homicide.

Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician, was fatally shot as the three officers sprayed more than two dozen bullets into her apartment. The officers were executing “no-knock” search warrant at her apartment shortly before 1 a.m. on March 13. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, also fired a shot.

More on the Breonna Taylor case: Kentucky grand jury indicts 1 of 3 officers in fatal Breonna Taylor police shooting

Here’s what to know about the charge of wanton endangerment:

What is wanton endangerment?

In Kentucky, wanton endangerment is a Class D felony.

“A person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious

physical injury to another person,” state law says.

How many years does the charge carry?

A person convicted of a Class D felony faces up to five years in prison for each count.


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