Breonna Taylor: Police officer charged but not over death

A police officer has been charged over the narcotics raid that resulted in the fatal shooting of a black woman at her home in the US state of Kentucky.

Breonna Taylor, 26, a hospital worker, was shot multiple times as officers stormed her home on 13 March.

Brett Hankison has been charged, not with Ms Taylor’s death, but with “wanton endangerment” for firing into a neighbour’s apartment in Louisville.

Two other officers who were involved have not been charged.

Under Kentucky law, someone is guilty of wanton endangerment if they commit an act that shows “an extreme indifference to the value of human life”.

It is a felony that can come with a five-year sentence for each count. Mr Hankison was charged on three counts.

Ms Taylor’s relatives and activists for whom her death has become a rallying cry had been calling for the three officers to be charged with murder or manslaughter.

But this was rejected by a grand jury that reviewed the evidence.

Ben Crump, a high-profile lawyer for the Taylor family, said the outcome was “outrageous and offensive”.

Officials this month agreed to pay her family $12m (£9.3m) in a settlement.

What did the prosecutor say?

On Wednesday, Judge Annie O’Connell announced the charges that had been brought by a grand jury against Mr Hankison.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron then held a news conference in which he expanded on the decision. “This is a gut-wrenching emotional case,” he said.

“There is nothing I can offer them today to take away the grief and heartache as a result of losing a child, a niece, a sister and a friend,” he added in a message to Ms Taylor’s family.

Mr Cameron said a ballistics report had found that six bullets struck Ms Taylor, but only one was fatal.

That analysis concluded that Detective Myles Cosgrove had fired the shot that killed Ms Taylor.

The attorney general said it was not clear if Mr Hankison’s shots had hit Ms Taylor, but they had hit a neighbouring apartment.

Protesters march in Louisville following the grand jury decision

The top prosecutor said the other two officers – Jonathan Mattingly and Mr Cosgrove – had been “justified to protect themselves and the justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges”.

Mr Cameron, a Republican who is the state’s first black attorney general, added: “If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice.

“Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”

He added that the FBI was still investigating potential violations of federal law in the case.

Members of the National Guard are seen in the street in Louisville
The National Guard were deployed in Louisville ahead of the announcement

How are the Louisville authorities reacting?

A state of emergency was declared in Louisville on Tuesday and protests are expected. The National Guard have also been deployed.

Mayor Greg Fischer has set a 21:00-06:30 curfew in the city that will remain in place for the next 72 hours. He earlier said he had declared a state of emergency “due to the potential for civil unrest”.

Police have closed traffic on certain streets where protests have been prevalent, and barricades have been erected around the city centre.

Demonstrations over Ms Taylor’s death have been held in the city for more than 100 consecutive days.

The National Guard deployment has been criticised because one of its troops fatally shot a black restaurant owner, David McAtee, as authorities dispersed Black Lives Matter protesters in June.

The police department said its officers had come under fire while they were trying to clear the area. But after officers on the scene were found to have not activated their body cameras, the city’s police chief was sacked.

Police stand guard as people react after a decision in the criminal case against police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor

What happened to Ms Taylor?

Shortly after midnight on Friday 13 March, she was in bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when they heard a banging on the door.

Plainclothes Louisville police officers were carrying out a narcotics raid, and they used a battering ram to enter the property.

A judge had granted a warrant to search Ms Taylor’s home because investigators suspected a convicted drug dealer – her ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover – was using the address to receive packages. She had no criminal record.

People react after a decision in the criminal case against police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor

Mr Walker, a licensed gun owner, later told police he thought the late-night intruder was Glover, according to the New York Times.

Officials say Mr Walker’s bullet struck a police officer, Jonathan Mattingly, in the leg – an injury for which he later required surgery.

The three officers returned fire, discharging 32 rounds, according to a ballistics report from the FBI.

Source BBC
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