Two police officers were shot in Louisville as riots erupted in the city after a grand jury determined that no officers would face criminal charges in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, though one was charged with wanton endangerment for shooting into another home. Both officers are in good condition.
On March 13, Breonna Taylor became another flashpoint for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement after she was shot while the police were executing a search warrant on her residence. The focus of the warrant was on her potential involvement in a drug distribution operation, as police believed her home was being used to receive packages.
When police entered the home, Taylor’s boyfriend first opened fire on the officers, shooting one in the thigh, and then the officers returned fire, hitting Taylor six times. According to the medical examiner, she was dead in less than a minute.
After a thorough review, authorities and a grand jury determined that the shooting was an acceptable use of force. The only officer cited was Detective Brett Hankison, who is facing three charges of wanton endangerment because he shot “blindly” into the home, increasing the risk that he would hit a bystander by mistake.
This decision resulted in riots throughout the city of Louisville.
More than 100 people were arrested overnight in the city, and two police officers were shot. The suspect in those two shootings is now under arrest and the officers are expected to survive.
“We have had two officers shot tonight and it’s very serious. It’s a dangerous condition. I think the safety of the officers and community we serve is of utmost importance,” Louisville Metro Police Department Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said at a press conference.
The circumstances of the shooting of the two officers have not been revealed.
Kentucky’s Governor Andy Beshear said, “We know that the answer to violence is never violence and we are thinking about those two officers and their families tonight. So, I’m asking everybody: please, go home. Go home tonight.”
“These charges are not applicable to the facts before us because our investigation showed, and the grand jury agreed, that (Sgt. Jonathan) Mattingly and (Detective Myles) Cosgrove, were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron explained in a press conference.
Breonna’s family, who believes that she was murdered, were upset and frustrated by the decision.
“(Breonna’s mother Tamika Palmer) had to drive all the way down there to be told this, despite two advanced requests from me to not force her to drive down only to learn no indictments,” family attorney Sam Aguiar said. “I told them that would be hell for her.”
“It’s like killing Breonna all over again. 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,” Ben Crump, another attorney for Taylor’s family, said. “The DA can indict a ham sandwich if they want to … We strongly feel they did not want an indictment against these police officers.”
Celebrities and activists also expressed their outrage.
“The white supremacist institution of policing that stole Breonna Taylor’s life from us must be abolished for the safety and wellbeing of our people,” Colin Kaepernick tweeted.
“I’ve been lost for words today!” Basketball player LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers said on Twitter.
“I’m devastated, hurt, sad, mad! We want Justice for Breonna yet justice was met for her neighbors apartment walls and not her beautiful life. Was I surprised at the verdict. Absolutely not but damnit I was & still am hurt and heavy hearted! I send my love to Breonna mother, family and friends! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!!”
Actor Kerry Washington said, “I understand the desire to not vote. To reject a system that abuses you & denies your worth. But please know that the system DOES see your worth. It’s AFRAID of your power. That’s why it works so hard to make you feel powerless. You are NOT powerless. #SayHerName. And Vote!”
Reporter Jarrett Hill said, “I think the message to the people across this country is we don’t care about you, especially if you are Black, and even more if you are women.”