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One Officer Charged in Breonna Taylor Case, But Not for Her Death

People react after a decision in the criminal case against police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead by police in her apartment, in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
One Officer Charged in Breonna Taylor Case, But Not for Her Death
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A Kentucky grand jury on Wednesday charged one of three police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor. The 26-year-old Black woman was shot by officers inside her home in Louisville last March.

The officer, Brett Hankison, was not charged for his part in Taylor’s death, which happened during a police raid of her apartment on the night of March 13. Instead, the grand jury charged Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots into other nearby apartments during the raid.

Hankison, who is white, has already been dismissed from his job.

No other charges were announced against the other two officers who took part in the raid, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove.

Immediately after the announcement, people expressed anger that the grand jury did not do more.

“Justice has NOT been served,” tweeted Linda Sarsour of Until Freedom, a group that has pushed for charges in the case. “Rise UP. All across this country. Everywhere. Rise up for #BreonnaTaylor.”

Protesters in Louisville have pressured state Attorney General Daniel Cameron to charge the police officers who shot Taylor. Cameron, a Republican, is Kentucky’s first Black state attorney general.

Officers shot Taylor, an emergency medical worker, several times. Police had entered her home using a warrant during a drug investigation. The warrant they used did not require the officers to announce their presence. The use of these so-called no-knock warrants has since been banned in Louisville.

The warrant used to search Taylor’s home was connected to a suspect who did not live there and no drugs were found.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police entered, hitting Officer Mattingly. Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but lawyers later dropped the charge.

Walker told police he heard knocking but did not know who was coming into the home. He said he fired his gun in self-defense.

Cameron said the state’s investigation found that Hankison and the two other officers announced themselves before entering. Cameron said the officers acted in self-defense after Walker fired at them.

Cameron has said his office received materials from the Louisville Police Department’s public integrity unit while trying to decide whether to bring state charges against the three officers involved.

Hankison was dismissed from the city’s police department on June 23. Acting Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said in a dismissal letter that Hankison had shown “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” shot 10 rounds of gunfire into Taylor’s apartment.

Last week, the city settled a lawsuit against the three officers brought by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer. The city agreed to pay her $12 million and put in place police reforms.

Protesters in Louisville and across the country have demanded justice for Taylor and other Black people killed by police in recent months. The release in late May of an emergency 911 call by Taylor’s boyfriend marked the beginning of days of protests in Louisville. The protests were also fueled by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man who died while being arrested by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

The Associated Press reported on this story. Ashley Thompson adapted the report for VOA Learning English. was the editor.


Words in This Story

apartment - n. a usually rented room or set of rooms that is part of a building and is used as a place to live

wanton - adj. showing no thought or care for the rights, feelings, or safety of others

warrant - n. a document issued by a court that gives the police the power to do something

integrity - n. the quality of being honest and fair

lawsuit - n. a process by which a court of law makes a decision to end a disagreement between people or organizations

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