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‘Justice Denied’: Outrage Erupts In Kentucky After Verdict In Shooting Death of Breonna Taylor

“Justice denied,” many say, is the verdict in the shooting death of former emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor. The grand jury only indicted one officer, but not for responsibility in Taylor’s death. Taylor was shot and killed in her home during a botched drug raid by Louisville Metro Police Department officers who were there on a no-knock warrant. That raid was connected to an investigation into Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, who did not live at the property. 

Former officer Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, a class D felony, for firing bullets that hit an apartment next to Breonna Taylor’s on the evening of March 13 where a pregnant woman, man and child were inside. Hankison faces no other charges and the two other officers involved in the shooting, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and detective Myles Cosgrove, face no charges. A grand jury determined they were justified in returning deadly fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired from the apartment. Walker has said he did not know police were at the door.

Hankison was booked in the Shelby County Detention Center on Wednesday, Sept. 23, and posted the $15,000 bail the same day. If convicted, Hankison, who lost his job in June, could serve up to five years for each count.

Emotions ran high at Louisville, Kentucky’s Jefferson Square Park, also known as “Injustice Square,” following a less-than-favorable outcome for those who have taken great interest in the death of Breonna Taylor.Pastor Tim Findley of Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center in Louisville, Kentucky, expressed that this wasn’t the verdict he was expecting.

“The truth is in this country, in this state, and especially in this city… Black Lives do not matter.”

Breonna Taylor’s family attorney Ben Crump said in a release, “If Hankison’s behavior constituted wanton endangerment of the people in the apartments next to hers, then it should also be considered wanton endangerment of Breonna.” Crump also said the decision was “indefensible, regardless of how Attorney General Daniel Cameron seeks to justify it.”

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the state ballistics report could not determine who fired the shot fatally injuring Taylor, but an FBI investigation did.

“The FBI ballistics analysis concluded that the fatal shot was fired by Detective Cosgrove,” said Cameron.

In preparation of the verdict and as part of the city of Louisville’s state of emergency plan, streets were barricaded and windows on buildings in downtown Louisville boarded up.

The City of Louisville began prepping for the state of emergency about 48 hours before the announcement; an indicator that chaos could erupt following the verdict. The plan also calls for a 72-hour curfew from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

Demonstrators say they aren’t done demanding justice and will continue to find creative ways to protest.

Dr. F. Bruce Williams, senior pastor of Bates Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville, said, “What is next is what we’ve already begun. We’re going to replace policymakers who have been complicit in everything that led up to this — what they did and what they failed to do.”

Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer said policies and procedures must be changed because “Breonna should be alive.” Fischer also said this case is far from over.

“The FBI is still conducting its own investigation, which the Department of Justice will review to determine whether there was any violation of federal laws, including civil rights violations. Also, LMPD is conducting a professional standards unit investigation to determine if any policies and procedures were violated by officers involved in the case.”

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