No Murder Charges for the Cops Who Killed Breonna Taylor

The Louisville woman died during a police raid, setting off months of protests.

A grand jury has indicted a former Louisville police officer with wanton endangerment of the first degree for actions he took during the raid that led to the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in the early hours of March 13 when police officers raided her Louisville apartment. The two other officers involved in the shooting will not be charged. The outcome was announced on Wednesday following a process led by Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s attorney general.

The charged officer, Brett Hankison, blindly fired his gun into both Taylor’s apartment and a neighbor’s, violating department policy requiring that officers have a line of sight. For this, Hankison was fired. At the time, Louisville’s interim police chief Robert Schroeder found that Hankison “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired ten (10) rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor.” on March 13, 2020.” But according to the indictment against Hankison, the wanton endangerment charges are the result of firing into Taylor’s neighbor’s apartment. His bond was set at $15,000.

Protests calling for charges against the officers who took Taylor’s life have taken place in Louisville for more than 100 days. On the eve of the announcement, the city took steps to control potential coming protests. On Tuesday, the city was placed under a state of emergency order, a 25-block permitter was closed to traffic, city administrative buildings were boarded up. On Wednesday, prior to the announcement, a 9pm curfew was announced and the state national guard was activated.

Taylor’s death was the result of a police raid gone horribly wrong. Police claim they announced their presence, but inside her apartment, Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker claims he and Taylor heard an intruder breaking down the door without identifying themselves. In self-defense, Walker shot at the officers. The officers shot back, killing Taylor. The raid itself, part of an operation targeting her former boyfriend, should arguably never have involved Taylor. 

Cameron, a Republican and acolyte of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, chose to have a grand jury determine charges. Grand juries are generally known to fulfill the will of the prosecutor that leads them. In many cases involving officer shootings, they have facilitated decisions not to charge while serving as way for prosecutors to deflect public blame for the decision to the grand jury.

This post has been updated with more information about Hankison’s indictment.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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