A Kentucky grand jury indicted former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment on Wednesday, September 23. The charges were for Hankison’s shots fired during the search warrant raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment, but not for killing Taylor. Instead, Mr. Hankison was indicted for the gunshots he recklessly fired into neighboring apartments. Two other officers involved in the March 13 incident, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly, were not charged.
Say Her Name
Taylor family attorney Benjamin Crump was quick to tweet, “Jefferson County Grand Jury indicts former ofc. Brett Hankison with 3 counts of Wanton Endangerment in 1st Degree for bullets that went into other apartments but NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor. This is outrageous and offensive!”
Crump is so upset because the Grand Jury’s decision means that the shot that killed Ms. Taylor was legally fired. Kentucky’s Attorney General announced the grand jury’s decision. Daniel Cameron, a Republican and black man, acted as a special prosecutor in the case and revealed some key facts surrounding the raid and Taylor’s death. She was killed by a shot fired by Detective Myles Cosgrove. Cosgrove’s shot was legal because he was returning fire from Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. In short, Ms. Taylor was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and so her death – while tragic – was not the result of a crime committed by Cosgrove. Cosgrove’s and Mattingly’s shots were legally justified.
Not No Knock
Police did knock and announce themselves before breaking down Taylor’s door. That was a point of contention about the raid, and something focused on by Crump and his comrades. Attorney General Cameron announced his team found independent corroboration from a civilian witness that the police knocked and announced their presence. This point is vital because it informs whether Ms. Taylor and Mr. Walker thought police or others were invading the apartment.
Cameron said his team conducted the review “from scratch,” pieced together from ballistics, interviews, and 911 calls. He used his connections with the FBI to have their lab examine the ballistics data available. It was the FBI, not state labs, that identified Cosgrove as the killer. Hankinson fired blindly into several apartments and recklessly endangered Taylor’s neighbors. A wanton endangerment charge is a class D felony and carries a penalty of one to five years in prison.
Ben Crump’s reaction is a bellwether for unrest and tumult. In anticipation of Cameron’s announcement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer invoked a 72-hour curfew, effective Wednesday night, from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.