The Jefferson County grand jury has issued an indictment in the Breonna Taylor case, announcing three counts against one officer for wanton endangerment and disregard for human life by randomly shooting into an apartment and not against a specific target. Police officers are required to shoot at specific targets, not indiscriminately. The “wanton disregard” charge could result in a five-year prison sentence. It is considered a lesser offense than manslaughter, which could bring a lengthier sentence.
Taylor was killed on March 13 at age 26 after being shot by three Louisville Metro Police Department officers, only one of whom was charged today — the one who was initially fired for the killing. The cops forced entry into her apartment with a no-knock search warrant and Taylor was shot eight times in the midst of gunfire between the police and Taylor’s boyfriend. The police had a no-knock warrant because they believed Taylor’s apartment was housing drugs, but no drugs were ever found.
CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz announced that protestors gathering at the courthouse in Louisville, KY reacted to the indictment with sadness, because a manslaughter charge was hoped for. “It’s unlikely these charges will be seen as sufficient by the protestors who’ve spent months calling for justice in the case,” Prokupecz said.
The Taylor family have called for peaceful protests, no matter what the grand jury was to decide.
Technically, the three charges against the officer in question are not charges in Taylor’s death but for his behavior at the scene. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said that there is no indication that any of the bullets this officer fired — the “wanton disregard” charge stems from him shooting bullets into three apartments beyond Taylor’s — actually hit Taylor or were responsible for her death. Cameron stated that Taylor was shot six times, but only one of the bullet wounds proved fatal and likely caused death within a few seconds to two minutes.
Taylor’s death and calls to arrest the police officers responsible for it have remained a national talking point over the last several months. Actress Regina King accepted an Emmy Award over the weekend while wearing a shirt with Taylor’s face on it. Following the May 25 killing of George Floyd by police officers, demand for the arrest of her killers skyrocketed. The phrase “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” became a national Twitter topic on June 7, just two days after what would have been Taylor’s 27th birthday.
Hollywood names such as Jordan Peele, Ava DuVernay, Nia DaCosta, Olivia Wilde, Oprah Winfrey, Kumail Nanjiani, Seth Rogen, Sarah Paulson, and Yvette Nicole Brown have all rallied on social media to advocate for the arrest of Taylor’s killers. Actors Aunjanue Ellis, Milauna Jackson, Tanayi Seabrook, and Stephanie Lacey organized a rally in honor of Taylor on Friday, June 5 outside the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The event was also in support of Black Lives Matter. The hundreds of protestors in attendance sang a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” in honor of Taylor’s 27th birthday.
In the lead up to the verdict being announced, a statement of emergency went into effect in Louisville, Kentucky in anticipation of protests over the decision. The Guardian reports the Louisville police department has restricted vehicle traffic downtown “due to increased attention and activity in anticipation of an announcement” and to “ensure the area is as safe as possible for those coming downtown to express their first amendment rights.” A curfew for this evening has also been announced.
Check out a round up of Hollywood reactions to the verdict below.
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) September 23, 2020
No. Officers. Charged. In. The. Killing. Of. #BreonnaTaylor.
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) September 23, 2020
Bulls— decision!!! BLACK LIVES MATTER!!! Cannot be said enough times. https://t.co/HOrDQzHJ0d
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) September 23, 2020
“And part of the rage is this: It isn’t only what is happening to you. But it’s what’s happening all around you and all of the time in the face of the most extraordinary indifference, indifference of most white people in this country, and their ignorance.” James Baldwin. pic.twitter.com/UfYwvC7l7c
— COMMON (@common) September 23, 2020
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) September 23, 2020
— DL Hughley (@RealDLHughley) September 23, 2020
— Mandy Moore (@TheMandyMoore) September 23, 2020
Brett Hankinson, one of Breonna Taylor’s murderers, was NOT charged with murder, but with wanton endangerment. This crime is punishable with up to five years in prison. That’s one year for each bullet fired into her sleeping body. NOT GOOD ENOUGH. #JusticeForBreonna
— Ron Perlman (@perlmutations) September 23, 2020
Brett Hankison is indicted for shooting into the apartment NEXT to Breonna Taylor & not for KILLING HER.
He’s fired for shooting into BREONNA TAYLOR’S apartment & not for KILLING HER.
This is systemic racism.
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) September 23, 2020