Officers Involved in Breonna Taylor Murder Evade Indictment

Cynthia Terry, Staff Writer

Despite months of protests in response to the murder of Breonna Taylor, the grand jury ruled not to indict any of the officers in regards to her death.

Taylor was a young Black woman who was shot and killed by police officers executing a “no knock” warrant at her residence on March 13. Only one officer, former Louisville Police Detective Brett Hankison, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment for firing his handgun into nearby apartments on the night of the shooting. None of the officers were charged in the killing of Taylor, who was shot five times, sparking nationwide outcry. 

Under Kentucky law, wanton endangerment is when someone manifests an extreme indifference to human life and deliberately engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person. No other charges were filed by the grand jury. The jury found that none of Hankison’s bullets struck Taylor and determined the conduct of the other two officers was justified. 

At first, Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not disclose what was discussed behind closed doors to the grand jury in the case of Breonna Taylor’s death. Cameron said last week that two of the officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, were justified in firing their weapons because Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, had fired at them. “Our prosecutors presented all of the evidence… the evidence supported that Sgt. Mattingly and Det. Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Cameron said in the statement. “For that reason, the only charge recommended was wanton endangerment.”

On Monday, a grand juror, who was not identified, filed a court motion asking a judge to release the record of the grand jury proceedings, suggesting Cameron had not been truthful about the lack of indictment for either officer who fatally shot Taylor inside her apartment. In response, Cameron said “we will comply with the judge’s order to release the recording on Wednesday. The release of the recording will also address the legal complaint filed by an anonymous grand juror.” On Wednesday morning, Cameron requested a delay in releasing the record.

Hankison pleaded not guilty on Monday to the three counts of wanton endangerment. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith set Hankison’s bail at $15,000, with the conditions that he attend his court appearances and not possess any firearms. Hankison was released after posting bail. 

The next court date is scheduled for Oct. 28.