Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, and More React to Breonna Taylor Verdict: ‘A Bullshit Decision’

Jordan Peele, Ava DuVernay, and more Hollywood voices have all advocated for the arrests of the officers who killed Taylor in March.
September 15th 2020: The city of Louisville, Kentucky agrees to pay $12 million to Tamika Palmer (the mother of Breonna Taylor) and family as settlement in compensation for the death of Breonna Taylor who was fatally shot by officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department. - Photo by: zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 8/9/20 A "Justice For Breonna Taylor" demonstration and march protesting police brutality and racial inequality on August 9, 2020 in Manhattan, New York City. Demonstrators assembled in Times Square and then marched onto the West Side Highway - blocking vehicular traffic - where they held a sit-in to encourage further action against the Louisville, Kentucky Metro Police Department officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor. This protest was in support of the Black Lives Matter movement during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic amid an atmosphere of protests, demonstrations, riots, vandalism and destruction of property in response to the death of George Floyd who died while being arrested by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th. Cyclists blocked automobile traffic at intersections to allow protesters to march on city streets. Patrons at restaurants providing outdoor dining during the Phase 4 reopening cheered on the protesters. It appeared that a majority of the protesters wore face masks or protective face coverings. (NYC)
Breonna Taylor march in Kentucky on September 15

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.

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