One of the three officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor has been indicted on criminal charges, a grand jury in Kentucky decided Wednesday. Former detective Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, charges which stem from shooting into neighboring apartments the night that Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was shot in her home in Louisville on March 13.
No one has been charged in her death.
Hankison has been issued a $15,000 bond. Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, two other officers connected to the shooting, were not indicted, authorities announced.
The announcement was made after Attorney General Daniel Cameron's office presented its findings to the grand jury earlier this week. The attorney general and his team have been investigating the shooting since May.
The grand jury announcement was followed by a press conference held by Cameron, who said he knew many around the country were “anxious” to hear the news. Cameron publicly expressed his condolences and urged “everyone listening today" to remember "that a life has been lost," calling the events that transpired leading to Taylor's death "a tragedy under any circumstances.”
He said his office’s job was to find the facts of the case and “put emotions aside” to see if criminal violations of state law occurred in the death of Taylor. He said there was no body camera footage taken during the shooting and the evidence was based on witness accounts, as well as ballistics taken at the crime scene.
Cameron said due to Kentucky law, he cannot make comments on the case in order to ensure due process under the constitution.
Cameron said that Hankison, Cosgrove and Mattingly had nothing to do with obtaining the search warrant with which they were armed when they arrived at Taylor's home. He said that police both knocked and announced they arrived on the scene, details that were corroborated by an "independent witness."
Taylor was hit by six bullets that were fired by two Louisville officers. One of the bullets that struck her was fatal, Cameron said. Cameron said that Taylor's boyfriend, Walker, was the first to fire on the officers after they entered the apartment, which prompted the officers to return fire.
Cameron said Mattingly knew he was shot by Kenneth Walker and that there is no evidence to suggest he was hit by friendly fire. Ballistics report backs this up, he said. He said Mattingly was shot by a .9mm bullet, while the cops carried .40 caliber bullets. He said Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after being fired upon by Walker.
The news comes as the city of Louisville announced Tuesday they were bracing for Cameron’s decision about whether to bring charges against the officers in the case. The city has been placed under a state of emergency by the mayor since Tuesday afternoon.
Mayor Greg Fischer reiterated his reasoning for the state of emergency on Wednesday, just hours before Cameron’s decision came.
“We all have a choice to make in response to whatever decision Attorney General Cameron announces today,” Fischer said. “I urge everyone to commit once again to a peaceful, lawful response, like we’ve seen here for the majority of the past several months.”
The mayor also encouraged people to work remotely if they can.
“Our goal is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights,” Fischer said. “At the same time, we are preparing for any eventuality to keep everyone safe.”
The state of emergency allows the mayor to exercise emergency powers such as hiring or contracting services and implementing curfews.
A second executive order restricts access to five downtown parking garages and bans on-street parking. The city has also banned parking “to provide an extra layer of security for protests in and around Jefferson Square Park.” Jefferson Square Park has been where many of the protests and demonstrations to advocate for Taylor have taken place. It is also in this park activists are trying to have renamed in Taylor's honor.
In addition to the state of emergency, the LMPD has said vacation and off-days are canceled in anticipation of the attorney general’s decision. The city, including the mayor and LMPD, are bracing for the announcement and have repeated that they do not know when it is coming down.
Councilwoman Barbara Sexton-Smith, who represents the 4th district of Louisville, which includes the park, released a statement Tuesday saying she is backing the mayor.
“I join Mayor Fischer and Chief Schroeder in stressing that we all should base our behaviors on facts and not participate in the spread of misinformation. You can help by following the Mayor’s Office, LMPD and other official Louisville Metro Government social media accounts for updates. Our goal is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights after the announcement. At the same time, we are preparing for any eventuality to keep everyone safe,” she wrote.
Last week, Taylor’s estate was awarded $12 million by the city in damages. The mayor also announced sweeping police reform.
In documentation previously obtained by the Louisville Courier-Journal, police were authorized to carry out a “no-knock” warrant on Taylor’s Louisville home on March 13 as part of a narcotics investigation of a person who lived in a home 10 miles away. Neither Taylor nor her boyfriend, Walker, were the investigation's target. Police had suspected, though, that Taylor’s home was used to receive drugs.
Authorities said they identified themselves, despite the “no-knock” warrant. Police said the officers were “immediately” met by gunfire when they entered Taylor and Walker's home, at which point they returned fire.
Walker called 911 during the ordeal and he was informed he'd shot an officer. He was initially charged with attempted murder, but his charges were later dropped after he said he shot in self-defense thinking he and Taylor were victims of a home invasion.
In the wake of Taylor's death, the city has banned "no-knock" warrants.
In June, Officer Brett Hankison was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department. He is currently contesting his termination with legal council. Officer Myles Cosgrove and John Mattingly have been reassigned.