Protests continue, an officer is charged in the Breonna Taylor case

Protests gather in Jefferson Square Park in Louisville, KY, following Officer Brett Hakisons disappointing indictment on a mere first-degree wanton endangerment charge. (September 26, 2020)

Max Gersh/Courier Journal

Protests gather in Jefferson Square Park in Louisville, KY, following Officer Brett Hakison’s disappointing indictment on a mere first-degree wanton endangerment charge. (September 26, 2020)

Mimi Jiang-Yu, Contributing Writer

Last Wednesday, the grand jury delivered its highly anticipated decision regarding the three officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor. In the disappointing decision, the grand jury indicted only one of the three officers involved: former detective Brett Hankison, on the charge of first-degree wanton endangerment. 


On March 13, 2020, undercover narcotics officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) executed a no-knock warrant at Breonna Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, Kentucky. While the officers claimed that they had knocked and announced themselves before breaking down the door, Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker III said “he heard pounding at the door but did not hear anyone announce they were police.” Having thought the police to be intruders, Walker fired one shot with his legally owned firearm, non fatally hitting one officer. All three officers returned fire, killing Breonna Taylor.


In her obituary, Breonna Taylor was described as “full of life,” loving “life and all it had to offer.” She attended and graduated from Louisville’s Western High School in 2011 and went on to attend college at the University of Kentucky. Taylor was an accomplished EMT for the city of Louisville and worked as an ER Technician at the time of her death. She was also described as constantly finding “ways to better herself and the people around her.”


By May, following the death of George Floyd and the release of Kenneth Walker’s 911 call, protesters had taken to the streets of Louisville, as well of the rest of the country, to demand justice and an end to the racist systems that “lead police to kill Black people at disproportionate rates.” Hundreds of people in cities all over the country took to the streets to protest, demanding that the officers who shot and killed Taylor be fired, arrested, and charged. These demonstrations became one of the largest protest movements in U. S. History.


On May 11th, 2020, Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor’s mother, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the three officers involved in her daughter’s death. On

Protesters marched in downtown Louisville, protesting the disappointing indictment of Officer Hankison on a mere first-degree wanton endangerment charge. (Max Gersh/Courier Journal)

On September 15th, 2020, she was awarded $12 million from the city of Louisville. However, this ruling did not determine whether justice would be served.


As of June 19, 2020, the FBI Louisville office has been conducting “an independent investigation into all aspects of the death of Breonna Taylor.” According to the law office representing Taylor’s family, the investigation has revealed that Detective Myles Cosgrove, another officer involved, fired the shot that killed Breonna Taylor.


Neither Cosgrove nor Sergeant John Mattingly, the third officer-involved, has been fired or charged. Only Hankison has been fired, and on September 23rd, 2020, he was indicted for only a first-degree wanton endangerment charge.


According to Chapter 508 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, “a person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.”


Ben Crump, the Taylor family’s attorney, thinking the decision to be “outrageous and offensive,” stated, “If Hankinson’s behavior constituted wanton endangerment of the people in the apartments next to hers, then it should also be considered wanton endangerment of Breonna.” He continued, “In fact, it should have been ruled wanton murder.”


The decision reignited protests in Louisville as well as all over the country in the past week. Outrage continued on social media outlets like Instagram and Twitter, where the movement has been heavily covered all summer. This week, protesters demonstrated their disapproval for the grand jury’s decision while calling for the release of the grand jury audio recordings. In response, the Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron released the recordings on the morning of October 2, 2020, stating, “While it is unusual for a court to require the release of the recordings from Grand Jury proceedings, we complied with the order, rather than challenging it, so that the full truth can be heard.”


According to The New York Times, the 15 hours of recording show a contradiction between the accounts of the officers involved and the testimonies of Walker and Taylor’s neighbors. Further, the officers knew that Jamarcus Glover, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend and the target of the drug investigation, had already been held in custody by the time they raided Taylor’s apartment. Neither Breonna Taylor nor Kenneth Walker was named on the search warrant, and no drugs were found in the apartment.


Peaceful demonstrations continue to take place in Louisville and other cities across the country, protesting the decision to not charge the officers for the murder of Breonna Taylor.


Regarding the latest decision, two Hingham High School juniors gave their opinions. 


Junior Cian Nicholas stated, “the obvious conclusion to be made is that laws must be changed.” He reasoned, “awarding this kind of power to police officers will only result in the killing of more black Americans. It must be taken away.”


Junior Ally Higgins agreed, stating, “I’m completely against the recent decision, and the police should be charged with murder.”


Regarding the protests, Nicholas added, “my only hope is that they [result in] change.” He feels that “legislation must be passed at a federal level.” Because “the precincts across the country won’t voluntarily relinquish power,” he thinks “pressure needs to be put on state and federal officials to change how laws are enforced.”


Read More:

Details and Timeline of the Breonna Taylor Case


Mayor Fischer’s remarks in response to Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s announcement regarding the Breonna Taylor case