Grand jury indicts 1 of 3 officers in Breonna Taylor shooting

A Jefferson County grand jury has indicted one of three Louisville officers connected to the March 13 fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor.

But the charges are for putting Taylor's neighbors in danger, not for killing her — a move an attorney for her family called "outrageous and offensive."

The grand jury's decision, announced Wednesday:

  • Former detective Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.
  • Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly was not indicted.
  • Detective Myles Cosgrove was not indicted.

"If Brett Hankison's behavior was wanton endangerment to people in neighboring apartments, then it should have been wanton endangerment in Breonna Taylor's apartment too," attorney Ben Crump wrote on Twitter. "In fact, it should have been ruled wanton murder!"

A wanton endangerment charge is a class D felony and carries a penalty of one to five years in prison. The charges read by Judge Annie O'Connell on Wednesday said that Hankison "wantonly shot a gun" into adjoining Apartment 3.

The occupants of that apartment were identified by initials. None of victims identified in the indictment was BT — Breonna Taylor.

That means the grand jury did not find that Hankison wantonly fired into Taylor's apartment the night she died or that any of the officers are criminally liable in her death.

The judge set a $15,000 cash bond for Hankson. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

In May, Taylor's neighbor, Chesey Napper, filed a lawsuit against the LMPD officers,claiming that the officers' shots were "blindly fired"and nearly struck a man inside. Napper was pregnant and had a child in the home, according to the lawsuit.

"I can’t make it make sense in my head," attorney Lonita Baker, who represented Taylor's family in their civil lawsuit, wrote on Facebook. "Wanton endangerment to a neighboring apartment constitutes wanton endangerment to Breonna."

Sam Aguiar, Baker's co-counsel, also expressed dismay at the decision, writing on Facebook, "way to really rub it in" and apologizing to Taylor's family members.

"Three counts for the shots into the apartment of the white neighbors, but no counts for the shots into the apartment of the black neighbors upstairs above Breonna’s. Let alone everything else you got wrong," Aguiar wrote. "This isn't right and I should've done more."

Cameron said 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 has said he didn't know police were at the door.

He said there was "nothing conclusive to say" that any of Hankison's bullets hit Taylor.

"Justice is not often easy and does not fit the mold of public opinion. And it does not conform to shifting standards," Cameron said. "I know that not everyone will be satisfied with the charges we've reported today.

"My team set out to investigate the circumstances surrounding Ms. Taylor's death. We did it with a singular goal in mind: pursuing the truth. Kentucky deserves no less. The city of Louisville deserves no less. If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice. Mob justice is not justice."

A visibly upset Tamika Palmer, Taylor's mother, traveled to Cameron's announcement in Frankfort but left without commenting. Attorneys for the Taylor family said they would not be talking or issuing a statement.

Taylor's sister, Juniyah Palmer, posted a picture on Instagram of her with Breonna, saying, "Sister, I am so sorry."

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