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Grand Jury Indicts Brett Hankison For Wanton Endangerment In Breonna Taylor Death

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Taylor Family
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  The grand jury in the Breonna Taylor case indicted Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment.

The grand jury presented its findings before Judge Annie O’Connell, and the hearing was broadcast remotely. The attorney general’s office asked that a warrant be issued and that Hankison be held in lieu of $15,000 cash bond.An announcement from Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron will follow at 1:30 p.m. from the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort. (Watch the press conference here.)

Grand juries do not determine guilt or innocence; only whether there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges. Typically, they hear only from the police and prosecutors to make that determination.

Taylor was shot and killed by Louisville Metro Police officers during a middle-of-the night raid on her apartment on March 13. Three officers fired their weapons: Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Officer Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison.

The grand jury did not indicate they considered charges against Cosgrove or Mattingly.

Though Taylor wasn’t the main target, police had obtained a “no-knock” warrant for her apartment based on her connections to an alleged drug dealer. The 26-year-old emergency room technician was home with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, that night. When plainclothes police arrived, they did knock on the door, but whether they identified themselves as law enforcement officers is disputed.

As police broke the door down, Walker, a licensed gun owner, fired a shot and hit one of the officers in the leg. Three officers responded with gunfire, hitting Taylor five times and killing her.

In the aftermath of Taylor’s death, people have protested in Louisville for more than 100 days, calling for the three officers involved in Taylor’s death to be fired and charged with murder. Hankison — was fired in June for his role in the shooting. At the time, interim police chief Robert Schroeder said that Hankison’s actions “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.” Hankison has since appealed that decision.

Attorneys for Taylor’s family and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced a settlement last week in the civil case stemming from her death. Under the agreement, the city will pay $12 million and make several changes to police policies. But at the announcement, Taylor’s mother and her lawyers were clear: the civil settlement is a first step, but criminal consequences for the officers involved in the raid are necessary, too.

Cameron’s office was tasked with reviewing the Louisville Metro Police Department’s internal investigation into Taylor’s killing; this would have typically fallen to Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine, but Wine recused himself from the case because at the time he was prosecuting Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Those charges have since been dismissed.

Protests Expected

In preparation for today’s announcement, Louisville police have limited access to downtown and officials have closed federal buildings. Mayor Greg Fischer announced a 9 p.m. curfew countywide, and the National Guard has been activated.

Before the announcement, people were gathering downtown at Jefferson Square for direct action training. Fischer and interim LMPD Chief Robert Schroeder made a plea earlier today for protests to stay lawful and peaceful.

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