A grand jury in Jefferson County, Ky., has indicted a former Louisville police detective on three charges of wanton endangerment in the first degree in the March 13 shooting that resulted in the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. Brett Hankison, one of three officers involved, was fired by the department in June, with a termination letter saying he “wantonly and blindly” shot 10 times into Taylor’s apartment. He is accused of endangering lives in a neighboring unit after firing the rounds.
Taylor’s name became a rallying cry for policing overhauls and racial justice as the Black Lives Matter movement swept the United States this summer.
On Wednesday evening, two officers were shot following the indictment, and a suspect is in custody, authorities said. The shooting occurred about 8:30 p.m. as officers responded to shots fired in a large crowd. One officer is alert, said the interim police chief, while another is undergoing surgery.
Ben Crump, one of the attorneys for Taylor’s family, excoriated the grand jury’s decision Wednesday, saying, “This is outrageous and offensive!”
Cameron said the state’s investigation determined the officers who shot Taylor were “justified” because they had been fired upon first, by Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend. Walker has sued Louisville police and disputed their version of events.
Cameron said the investigation uncovered one witness who heard the detectives identify themselves, disputing earlier reports that a “no-knock” warrant was being served. However, Taylor family attorneys have disputed this, and police were not wearing body cameras.
Legal experts said Hankison will probably seek to demonstrate that he did not act recklessly — and may argue that, in fact, he was trying to save the lives of his colleagues.
As protesters have converged in downtown Louisville, activists across the country announced plans for emergency marches in the aftermath of the grand jury decision.
Louisville was under a 9 p.m. curfew. National Guard units were reporting to the city, while the interim police chief pledged to protect the public “while also ensuring the constitutional right for people to express their feelings in a lawful and peaceful manner.”
With Breonna Taylor decision, summer’s anguished protests get fresh impetus for the fall
Inside the Kentucky History Center, the state’s top law enforcement official was explaining why Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy, but not a crime.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) had reviewed the evidence. He had studied the law. He had come to a conclusion about how justice could best be served, and it didn’t involve prosecuting police officers for shooting to death the 26-year-old emergency room technician in her apartment after midnight on March 13.
The two officers at her door that night, Cameron said, were “justified” in using force to defend themselves after Taylor’s boyfriend — fearing an intruder, not the police, was breaking into the apartment — fired on them.
But even as he spoke, a very different judgment was already coming in on the streets of Louisville. Hundreds of people were marching through an otherwise deserted downtown. Some shouted obscenities at police. Others lit a trash can on fire.
Benjamin Crump, one of the attorneys for the family of Breonna Taylor, said the Wednesday decision by a grand jury to not indict Louisville police officers in her death was the equivalent of killing her again.
“It’s just heartbreaking. It’s like killing Breonna all over again,” Crump told CNN’s Don Lemon, saying the family was “outraged” over the decision. “Legalized genocide of people of color, because no matter how much evidence we have, they always find a way to try to legally justify it.”
Hours after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) announced no officers would be indicted in her death, Crump characterized the grand jury proceeding as “outrageous.” One officer was charged with “wanton endangerment,” accused of firing recklessly into a neighboring apartment.
“The D.A. could have indicted a ham sandwich if they wanted to,” Crump said to CNN. “We strongly feel they did not want an indictment against these police officers.”
Crump criticized Cameron’s process and lack of action Wednesday, saying the “unjustifiable” decision handed down by the attorney general underscored that there were “two justice systems in America: one for Black America and one for White America.”
“We stand here today to say that there is no justification for the murder of Breonna Taylor,” he said. “And we will go to our graves proclaiming that Breonna Taylor did not get justice from the Kentucky attorney general’s office.”
‘I’m tired, like every Black American’: Chicago protesters hope this time is different
By Mark Guarino
CHICAGO — As three protests in downtown and the South Side ended, a fourth on the North Side was just getting started.
About 300 people marched north on California Avenue to protest a Louisville grand jury’s decision not to indict officers in Breonna Taylor’s death. They stopped in front of the 14th Police District headquarters, which was lined for a full block with police on the sidewalk. Protesters on foot and bike yelled into the faces of police officers for about 30 minutes until the march continued north up Milwaukee Avenue toward Logan Square, where Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) lives on a residential street.
The noise on the street drew Mike and Sara Franklin, 34 and 32 respectively, out of their house, and they joined the march. Sara said the march, like many others in Chicago this summer, are “part of change” in her city. “It won’t happen overnight, but every little bit counts,” she said.
The protest was also the first for Nasceita Luckett, 24, who decided to join the marchers after she left her job at a spa. Luckett, who is Black, said she decided to finally join the movement Wednesday because of one reason: “I’m tired, like every Black American.”
“I’m exhausted that Black people are not getting the justice we deserve,” she said. “I’m so tired of turning on the TV, it keeps going and it is never going to stop. … This is my time to try to make a difference.”
The marchers walked around a turnaround to enter Lightfoot’s street. They stopped two blocks from her house after seeing that Chicago police had barricaded the intersection, preventing them from moving forward. They reversed and ended up in the park, located in the middle of the turnaround. There, they spray-painted the 1918 Illinois Centennial Memorial Column with Taylor’s name and other graffiti.
Matthew James, 34, stood nearby on his bicycle watching. He showed up because, he said, he was “tired of watching the same scene play out for too long and elected officials failing to take police violence seriously.” He said the march reflects “a movement that is continuing to grow.”
“Five years ago, people protesting the police were thought of as crazy,” he said. “But now they are understanding why people have been upset for so long.”
Biden rankles some activists who claim he linked protests and violence
Asked about the Breonna Taylor case in Louisville, Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, said he understood there would be protests after the grand jury’s decision not to indict officers in her death.
Assured that there were indeed demonstrations, Biden said, “Well, they should be peaceful,” according the pool report. “Do not sully her memory or her mother’s by engaging in any violence. It’s totally inappropriate for that to happen. She wouldn’t want it, nor would her mother, so I hope they do that.”
Tamika Mallory, a co-founder of the group Until Freedom, called Biden’s statement’s “triggering” because it singled out protesters and associated their cause with violence. “I would hope that Vice President Biden understands the rage and pain that Black people are experiencing in this moment,” Mallory told The Washington Post.
Later, Biden issued a statement humanizing Taylor as a “beloved daughter, member of her community, and an essential worker.”
“But she died, shot in her own home by the 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,” said Biden.
Stephen Green, a national activist based in New York who joined Mallory and others on the Until Freedom campaign in Louisville, said organizers spent all day Wednesday figuring out next steps. Not once did the conversations turn to the election or electing Democrats.
“The pain is not translating to the polls,” he said.
300 protesters demonstrate in front of Portland police headquarters
PORTLAND, Ore. — More than 300 demonstrators blocked off the street in front of the Portland Police Bureau’s headquarters Wednesday night, shouting Breonna Taylor’s name and proclaiming, “Black lives matter.”
The demonstration took place despite a cold rain that drenched protesters. Portland has seen nearly four months of protests since the death of George Floyd, a string broken when smoke from wildfires made outdoor activities hazardous.
Videos posted to social media also showed crowds gathering in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center, including a drum line playing to the chants of, “Whose life mattered? Breonna Taylor!”
The protests come ahead of what’s expected to be another tense stretch in Portland. In a few days, thousands of members of the Proud Boys — a self-identified western chauvinist group that the FBI has said has ties to white nationalism — are expected to arrive in the City of Roses and engage in clashes with local activists.
Democrats decry Kentucky AG decision on Breonna Taylor as an example of systemic injustice
Top Democrats decried the decision by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) to charge only one officer involved in Breonna Taylor’s shooting, and not for her death, calling it another example of the systemic injustice faced by Black Americans.
“Breonna Taylor. Breonna Taylor. Breonna Taylor,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) interrupted as a previously planned segment on MSNBC wrapped up Wednesday afternoon. “Say her name.”
Pelosi and other congressional leaders also used the moment to call for police reform and an overhaul of the criminal justice system.
“This is wrong,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). “Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. She deserves justice. Her family deserves justice. Unjust laws produce unjust outcomes. This must end.”
Two Louisville officers were shot Wednesday night about 8:30 p.m. as they responded to shots fired in the area of a large crowd, police said.
Both officers are in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries, said Robert Schroeder, the interim chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department. One officer is alert, he said at a news conference, while another is undergoing surgery, and a suspect is in custody.
“I am very concerned about the safety of our officers,” Schroeder said.
Police said in a Facebook post that the shooting unfolded as they responded to protests that erupted in the city after the Kentucky attorney general announced that no police officers would be charged for the death of Breonna Taylor. One former police officer was charged with “wanton endangerment,” accused of firing recklessly into a neighboring apartment.
Police did not provide any additional information about the officers’ shooting.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) urged everyone to “go home” Wednesday night after the violence, saying that “there will be many times over the coming days where there will be any opportunity to be heard.”
“We know that the answer to violence is never violence,” he said in a video.
President Trump also said he was thinking of the wounded police.
“Praying for the two police officers that were shot tonight in Louisville, Kentucky,” Trump tweeted. “The Federal Government stands behind you and is ready to help. Spoke to @GovAndyBeshear and we are prepared to work together, immediately upon request!”
Acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf tweeted: “Violence against law enforcement is NEVER acceptable in a civil society.”
The FBI in Louisville tweeted just after 9 p.m. that its SWAT team had responded to the shooting of a city police officer. The FBI “will continue to assist in the investigation,” it said.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to protesters: ‘Please go home’
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) urged Wednesday night for protesters throughout the state angry that no police officer would be charged in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor to “go home” after two Louisville police officers were shot amid rising tensions in the city.
“I’m asking everybody, please go home. Go home tonight,” Beshear said in a video statement posted to Twitter. “There will be many times over the coming days where there will be an opportunity to be heard.”
The governor’s plea came shortly after police confirmed that two officers were in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries. Robert Schroeder, the interim chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department, said at a news conference that a suspect is in custody.
Beshear said he understood the rage, frustration and concern felt by many in the hours since Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) announced that no police officers would be charged for Taylor’s death. One former police officer was charged with “wanton endangerment,” accused of firing recklessly into a neighboring apartment.
“Many people have been out on the streets, especially in Louisville tonight, giving voice to those emotions,” he said. “But sadly, we have seen at least one individual turn what were nonviolent ways of expressing ourselves into the shooting of at least two law enforcement officers. We know that the answer to violence is never violence, and we are thinking about those two officers and their families tonight.”
The governor stressed that he would continue to listen to the outcry and wished that protesters would not respond to Wednesday’s news with violence. Louisville police had made 46 arrests as of late Wednesday.
“Let’s make sure we don’t see any more violence tonight, and let’s make sure that we find ways of expressing ourselves moving forward where your point and other people’s points are made,” he said. “And that hopefully we cannot just listen, but we can hear.”
Video: Gunfire erupted after police fired flash-bangs at protesters
Before two Louisville police officers were reported shot, a crowd of protesters had amassed at Jefferson Square Park, the site of months-long demonstrations sparked by Taylor’s death, where they chanted and listened to speeches by organizers.
Around 7:45 p.m., after several small fires were set in trash cans, police declared the gathering an “unlawful assembly” and threatened to use chemical agents if protesters refused to clear the park.
Heeding the warning, several hundred protesters marched south, chanting, “Say her name!” and “Breonna Taylor!” as they wove through downtown Louisville.
Jordan Lawson, a 29-year-old civil engineering student at the University of Louisville, said he took a break from studying to march with his sister. He said friends and family had been victims of police aggression.
“To me, in my heart, it's the right thing to do,” he said. “We need to let them know this is not okay.”
Eventually, the crowd turned up Brook Street and started heading north again, walking parallel to Interstate 65.
Ahead, a line of police vehicles blocked the intersection at Broadway, halting the march and causing the crowd to thicken. Someone could be heard shouting, “Y’all do what you want to do. Y’all are free!”
Without warning, at 8:29 p.m., police fired at least a pair of flash-bangs at the protesters.
A split second later, gunfire erupted. At least four shots rang out near the intersection, sending the crowd scrambling for safety.
Several armored vehicles sped to the scene, lights flashing. About 10 officers with wooden batons and riot gear sprung out and attempted to clear the crowd, yelling, “Move! Move! Move!”
The protesters dispersed in all directions. By the time police reported that an officer had been hit, the crowd had thinned completely. Police had the area roped off for blocks, and few people remained in the streets.
Police said officers were wounded responding to shots fired in the area of a large crowd.
Protesters spill into D.C. streets after grand jury decision in Breonna Taylor case
About 200 people protesting the grand jury decision on the Breonna Taylor case marched through downtown Washington Wednesday night.
The demonstration was mostly peaceful, but at about 9:30 p.m., some protesters broke windows and turned over newspaper boxes as the march turned into more residential neighborhoods.
The protest started at the Justice Department building as demonstrators shouted demands for justice in Taylor’s name as drivers honked in support. Taylor was sleeping in her home in Louisville in March when three police officers fired their weapons in her apartment, killing her.
Protesters march in Chicago ‘to fight for my people, especially Black women’
By Mark Guarino
At least four protest marches proceeded peacefully throughout Chicago early Wednesday evening as hundreds of people seized upon the news that no Louisville police were indicted in the killing of Breonna Taylor.
On the far South Side, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Catholic priest with St. Sabina Parish, led about 100 people in a march that blocked an intersection at 79th Street and Racine Avenue. Pfleger was joined by other South Side church leaders in speaking to the crowd about spreading the Black Lives Matter message to people far beyond the neighborhoods hurting the most.
Farther north, in Bronzeville, about 150 people stood in front of the Chicago Police headquarters until marching about four blocks north to a park where they called for police reform and denounced Chicago officials including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whom they characterized as caring little about making lasting change.
One speaker, Nico Jordan, 23, said he showed up “to fight for my people, especially Black women.”
“I came from a Black woman, I’ll always fight for them,” he said. The upcoming election does not give him hope that much will change on the national stage because he said he viewed most politicians as “corrupt.” But locally, he said, the frequent street marches all summer give him hope. “I expect [reform] will come slowly but surely,” he said.
At the park, the crowd took a symbolic knee for Taylor. Among the protesters was a man waving a giant black flag he said represented “freedom.” The man, 40, who did not want to give his name, said he and his flag are present at most protests because he views himself as fighting for “the abolition of the police.”
“They follow their own laws as far as I know. Thugs with badges, we’re sick and tired of it,” he said. “If our country has any morality, we’d punish killer cops.”
He too said he sees little differences between both political parties, although he hopes President Trump will be ejected from office come November. “Democrats and Republicans are both players in the same game, which is imposing imperialism,” he said.
In downtown Chicago, dozens of protesters gathered on the sidewalk in front of Millennium Park before marching through the Loop, followed by a platoon of Chicago police officers on bicycles and in vehicles. A few miles to the west, in Palmer Park, some 300 protesters gathered before marching north through the neighborhood. No arrests were reported.
Ky. attorney general on Breonna Taylor’s case: ‘I understand as a Black man,’ but acting on outrage ‘is no justice’
The attorney general who solemnly told Louisville and the nation that no police officer would be charged in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor is a young Black man who choked up at the thought that his own mother might ever face such a devastating tragedy.
That same Kentucky lawyer is one of the Republican Party’s best hopes for building a more diverse appeal, a protege of the ultimate old-school practitioner of the dark arts of politics, and a favorite of President Trump who nonetheless has a reputation for being a stickler for unadulterated facts.
As thousands of protesters gathered on Louisville’s streets Wednesday afternoon, Daniel Cameron faced the toughest moment yet in his fledgling political career. Kentucky’s 34-year-old attorney general patiently explained on national TV that his allegiance was to the law, not to his race or to emotions or to public sentiment, and that every tragic wrong does not necessarily find a cure in the criminal code.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — After spending months campaigning for justice for Breonna Taylor from the bubble, NBA players and coaches were dismayed Wednesday when a Kentucky grand jury decided not to charge three Louisville police officers with murder in the case.
More than five months after police fatally shot Taylor, a memorial sits in front of Taylor’s porch in a Louisville apartment complex about 20 minutes from downtown. Melted candles, handwritten notes and plastic flowers mingle with posters saying “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for Queen Breonna.”
The neighborhood of two-story brick buildings is filled with working families. A children’s bicycle with silver streamers sits on the porch next door to Taylor’s former apartment, where Louisville police officers barged in for a raid.
The shooting terrified residents, who recalled bullets seeming to fly indiscriminately.
Seny Soumaoro, a 26-year-old customer service representative at Amazon and an upstairs neighbor, said the FBI came to speak with her about the shooting. But she said she still was not sure what happened the night Taylor died.
Across the parking lot, Brian Tyler Burton, a 30-year-old forklift driver, rushed to deliver dinner from McDonald’s to his daughter in another apartment nearby. He said he knew Taylor enough to wave hello and was unhappy with the grand jury’s decision.
The police officers there that night “should have been charged with some type of murder,” he said.
“I don’t think it is justice,” he said, juggling takeout in his arms, adding that the decision means there is going to be “no peace at all.”