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Breonna Taylor: Kentucky grand jury indicts 1 officer
Former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison has been indicted on criminal charges after shooting into the apartments next door to Breonna Taylor.
WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Americans “must continue to speak Breonna Taylor’s name” following the decision by a Louisville, Kentucky, grand jury not to indict any of the police officers on homicide charges involved in her March 13 shooting death.
Three officers faced prosecution in the case but only a former police detective was indicted Wednesday on felony charges of wanton endangerment after shooting into an apartment next door to Taylor, 26, an EMT who was killed in her home by police.
Former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison is facing three felony charges. Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, two other officers involved, were not charged.
But racial justice protesters were hoping for homicide indictments against the officers in a case has attracted international attention. Protesters in Louisville, who have marched on the city’s streets for 119 consecutive days, and supporters across the nation have demanded “justice for Breonna” and other Black Americans, such as George Floyd in Minneapolis, who have been killed by police.
“In the wake of her tragic death, we mourn with her mother, family, and community and ask ourselves whether justice could be equally applied in America,” Biden said in a statement issued after a campaign visit to Charlotte, North Carolina, with Black business leaders. “I know for so many people today’s decision does not answer that call.”
Biden urged protesters to be peaceful and patient as they await the results of an ongoing federal investigation. Earlier, he told reporters that violent protests threatened to “sully” Taylor’s memory.
More: Breonna Taylor case: Two police officers shot during protest after officials announce charges; FBI SWAT team at scene
Shortly after Biden issued his statement, two Louisville Police officers were shot, as emotions ran high and protesters took to the streets. Louisville Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said both were being treated at area hospitals and are expected to recover. An FBI SWAT team is on the scene to help with the investigation.
“Violence is never & can never be the answer,” Biden tweeted after news of the shootings. “Those who engage in it must be held accountable.”
President Donald Trump tweeted that he was praying for the officers as well and that he had just spoken to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.
“The Federal Government stands behind you and is ready to help,” the president tweeted.
Earlier in the day at the White House, Trump did not directly address the grand jury’s decision but instead quoted Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s statement that justice “does not fit the mold of public opinion” and that “justice sought by violence” is not justice but revenge.
“I think that was a terrific statement,” Trump told reporters, adding that Cameron, who spoke at the Republican National Convention last month, “is doing a fantastic job.”
He ignored questions from reporters seeking more direct comment on the grand jury’s decision.
Biden said policing reforms remain “necessary,” including addressing the use of excessive force, banning choke holds, and overhauling no-knock warrants.
“We must continue to speak Breonna Taylor’s name, support her family still in grieving, and never give up on ensuring the full promise of America for every American,” he said in the statement.
More: Protesters begin marching; ex-cop indicted; 2 others said to be ‘justified’ in use of force: Breonna Taylor case updates
Hankison, who was fired in June, faces three felony counts, and bail was set at $15,000. The two other officers involved in the shooting, Mattingly and Cosgrove, were justified in their use of force, Cameron said. All three fired their weapons at Taylor’s apartment.
A wanton endangerment charge is a class D felony and could carry a penalty of one to five years in prison.
Cameron said that the grand jury decided homicide charges are not applicable because the investigation showed that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in returning deadly fire after they were fired upon by Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, who said he didn’t know police were at the door.
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 Taylor’s family that includes more than a dozen police changes.
Contributing: Louisville Courier-Journal staff