Louisville, KY – On September 23, a grand jury indicted Detective Brett Hankison of wanton endangerment in the Breonna Taylor shooting case. A wanton endangerment charge refers to reckless conduct showing extreme indifference towards the value of human life.
Sparking national outrage, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron recommended the wanton endangerment allegation, rather than a murder charge, to the grand jury. Cameron, with a growing profile in the Republican Party, is also one of the few African-American attorney generals in the nation.
Leading up to the deadly events, Breonna Taylor’s former boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, was under police investigation for selling drugs. Police obtained a search warrant from Taylor’s house because authorities believed that Glover used her apartment to receive substance packages in the past. Before the shooting, Breonna Taylor had reportedly severed all ties with Glover and she was not involved in any drug activity.
After midnight on March 13, Taylor and her boyfriend at the time, Kenneth Walker, were asleep in bed. After hearing loud banging at the front door and with Taylor still asleep, Walker got up to check. Walker allegedly called out asking who it was, believing it could be Jamarcus Glover attempting to break in. Walker also said that when he saw White men in plain clothes, Walker was afraid of a home invasion.
Originally, the Louisville Police Department (LMPD) received a court order for a “no-knock entry,” but that was changed to “knock and announce,” before the raid. The “knock and announce” order requires police officers to identify themselves. In court, the officers testified to identifying themselves but Walker said he did not hear them.
The police used a battering ram to knock down the door to get into the apartment. Walker shot first — hitting Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly once in the leg. Mattingly fired at least six rounds in response.
Police bullets struck Taylor five times. Officer Brett Hankison, fired ten rounds in the apartment. The other two officers also sprayed gunfire in the apartment. Walker frantically said on a recorded call to 911, “I don’t know what’s happening. Someone kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.”
The Jefferson County coroner determined that Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician, died within a minute of being shot. Jamarcus Glover was later arrested and confirmed that Taylor had no role in drug possession. Drugs weren’t found in her apartment.
Hankison is the only police officer who has been dismissed from the force and he was indicted by the grand jury on grounds of extreme indifference to human life. The other two police officers have gone scott-free, without any charges being filed against them.
Grounds of Self-Defense – Valid or Not?
Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly emailed the LMPD saying “ I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night.” He condemned the police department’s commanding team, the F.B.I., and the Louisville mayor claiming that “good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized.”
Since Breonna Taylor was still asleep when the gunfire erupted, the officers who exchanged gun shots with Walker, could not justify why they shot Taylor. Walker was charged with the attempted murder of a police officer, but those charges were later dismissed. No one was charged with Taylor’s murder.
The felony counts of wanton endangerment against Det. Hankison are allegedly for firing blindly into an adjacent apartment occupied by a pregnant woman. Hankison pleaded not guilty to the charge.
According to the attorney general, the two officers were justified in their use of force because Walker fired on them first. Cameron gave no justification on why Hankison, who was not fired upon, killed an unarmed Taylor but escaped a murder charge.
The FBI has been independently reviewing all the evidence and examining witnesses.
Erroneous Incident Report
The police incident report appears to be erroneous. It lists no injuries to Breonna Taylor. The report does not say whether or not police used a battering ram to knock down the front door. These inconsistencies show that the police report was never verified.
Allegedly, the police had already located the prime suspect, Jamarcus Glover, before entering Taylor’s apartment. LMPD spokesperson, Sgt. Lamont Washington, declined to comment further.
A video showing the moments immediately after the raid was leaked to the press. Jefferey Cooke, Director of Communications to Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wines, told Current Affairs Times that this video depicts the actions by a detective, now criminally charged. Cooke’s office said they could not make any public comments on an active case.
Cooke also referred Current Affairs Times to a press conference where the prosecutor, Tom Wine, strongly disagreed with the notion that the police misrepresented the case. He did, however, advise that more evidence should have been presented to the grand jury.
In yet another twist, an anonymous grand juror alleged that Cameron’s office may have misrepresented the case to the public. This juror requested the court release all recordings, transcripts, and reports of the grand jury proceedings to the public.
The court ordered that discovery documents can’t be shared. The judge also directed Cameron to add transcripts and recordings to the case files. Initially, Cameron believed that this action was inappropriate because the grand jury is meant to be a secretive body. Eventually, under pressure from the mayor, the attorney general agreed to comply with adding the necessary documents to the case files.
Current Affairs Times Exclusive – Taylor Family’s Reaction
Taylor’s family attorney, Sam Aguiar, told Current Affairs Times that the family is angry because the attorney general ignored certain facts and evidence disregarding Kentucky law while, at the same time, making political decisions.
The family alleges that Cameron lied to the public to make it appear as if the decisions in the case came down from the grand jury, rather than from his office. Aguiar also claimed that the attorney general didn’t explain why grand jury members weren’t told about the Kentucky law, prohibiting the use of self-defense on an unarmed third person.
According to Aguiar, Cameron’s witness changed his testimony two months after confirming that the officers did not identify themselves. He says that LMPD created a false narrative about Taylor.
Does accountability apply to police officers or can they blatantly disregard the law?
Image Credit: Clay Banks/Unsplash
- Jefferey Cooke, Director of Communications, Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.
- The Current Affairs Times has the original court documents, video footage copy, leaked email images, and press conference footage. Our team can be contacted for copies.
- “Breonna Taylor grand juror suggests case was misrepresented to the public”
- The Current Affairs Times did an exclusive interview with Sam Aguire.