Two Louisville police officers were shot Wednesday night as protesters marched following news that only one of the three officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death was indicted on first-degree wanton endangerment charges.
The other two officers who also fired shots during the botched March raid were not indicted, meaning no officer was charged with killing the 26-year-old Black emergency room technician and aspiring nurse.
Shortly before a 9 p.m. ET countywide curfew, there were reports of gunfire near one of the marches. Two of the responding officers were shot and had non-life-threatening wounds, Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder told reporters. A suspect was in custody, he added.
One of the officers was in surgery, he said.
Protests were also underway in cities like Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia and Washington.
Live updates on the announcement
The long-awaited grand jury decisions on the three officers come more than six months after Taylor was shot to death after Louisville police officers broke down the door to her apartment while executing a late-night warrant in a narcotics investigation on March 13.
The charges against the former detective, Brett Hankison, were immediately criticized as insufficient by demonstrators and activists.
The counts pertain to Hankison allegedly firing blindly through a door and window, with bullets entering an adjacent apartment where a pregnant woman, a man and a child were home, according to the state attorney general.
Sgt. John Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove, the two other officers, will face no charges following months of demonstrations and unrest over the killing. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron on Wednesday said the officers were “justified in their use of force” because Taylor’s boyfriend fired at officers first. An FBI ballistics analysis showed Cosgrove fired the shot that killed Taylor, he said.
Activists had demanded more serious felony counts, and the arrests of the three officers who fired shots the night Taylor was killed.
After the decision was announced, members of the Kentucky National Guard and state police were activated as protesters took to the streets and some clashes erupted with officers in riot gear.
Aerial video from CNN affiliate WLKY shows a heavy police presence along with large groups of protesters gathering at some intersections. Video showed some of these groups involved in shoving matches and confrontations with police. Several groups of people could be seen sitting on the ground, detained with hands bound.
Angelo Pinto — co-founder of Until Freedom, a social justice organization fighting against systemic and racial injustice — posted video to Instagram of the demonstrations.
“No justice, no peace,” the protesters chanted.
Earlier, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder announced a three-day countywide curfew starting 9 p.m. ET and ending at 6:30 a.m. each day.
Attorney for Taylor’s family called decision ‘outrageous and offensive’
“The decision before my office is not to decide if the loss of Breonna Taylor’s life was a tragedy,” said Cameron, the first Black person to hold the post and a rising Republican star. “The answer to that question is unequivocally yes.”
Cameron called the Taylor’s death “a gut-wrenching emotional case.” He defended the length of the investigation, saying the time reflected “how important it was to get this right.”
“I certainly understand the pain that has been brought about by the tragic loss of Ms. Taylor. I understand that as an attorney general who is responsible for all 120 counties, in terms of being the chief legal officer — the chief law enforcement officer, I understand that. I understand that as a Black man — how painful this is, which is why it was so incredibly important to make sure that we did everything we possibly could to uncover every fact.”
Attorney Ben Crump, who represents Taylor’s family, in a statement called the decision “outrageous and offensive.”
“If Hankison’s behavior constituted wanton endangerment of the people in the apartments next to hers, then it should also be considered wanton endangerment of Breonna. In fact, it should have been ruled wanton murder,” he said.
The NAACP said in a statement that the justice system “failed” Taylor and the charges against one officer do “not go far enough.”
First-degree wanton endangerment is a Class D felony, the lowest of four classes of felonies. The maximum sentence is five years; the minimum is one year.
Cameron said he spoke with Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, before his news conference. He said there’s nothing he can do to “take away the grief and heartache” that comes with Taylor’s death.
Mayor says police policies must change
For months, protesters in Louisville have criticized the length of the investigation and demanded the arrests of all officers involved.
Fischer noted that a federal investigation into Taylor’s death was ongoing and said policies and procedures in Louisville need to change “because Breonna Taylor still should be alive.”
Taylor’s death set off outrage across the country, chants of “say her name,” calls to arrest the officers, and a renewed focus on the Black women killed by police. Her story gained wider attention during nationwide demonstrations that followed the late May killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Cameron was named a special prosecutor in the case in May, and the FBI opened an investigation as well. After the announcement of the grand jury’s decision FBI Louisville in a statement said the agency “continues to investigate all aspects of the death of Breonna Taylor. Our work will continue beyond the state charges announced today.”
Early Tuesday, Mattingly, the officer who was shot, sent a mass email to the department defending his actions and slamming the city’s leadership.
In June, Hankison was fired for “wantonly and blindly” firing into Taylor’s apartment, Louisville’s police chief said. Six officers involved in the incident are under internal investigation, LMPD said on Tuesday.
The city of Louisville announced on Sept. 15 a $12 million settlement of the family’s wrongful death lawsuit. The city also agreed to enact police reforms which include using social workers to provide support on certain police runs and requiring commanders to review and approve search warrants before seeking judicial approval.
Walker has also filed suit, saying he “lives in constant fear” since he was arrested — wrongfully, he claims — for allegedly shooting one of the Louisville officers. Police officials have declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation and pending litigation.
High-risk, forced-entry raid has deadly outcome
Police believed Taylor was home alone when she was in fact accompanied by her boyfriend, who was legally armed, according to a CNN review of the shooting. That miscalculation, along with the decision to press forward with a high-risk, forced-entry raid under questionable circumstances, contributed to the deadly outcome.
Taylor’s ex-boyfriend was the actual focus of a narcotics investigation that led officers to execute the warrant on her apartment, where no drugs were found.
Police said a man was shipping drugs to Taylor’s apartment to avoid detection of a trafficking ring, according to a police affidavit for a search warrant, which was obtained by CNN.
The search warrant authorized police to search Taylor’s apartment, two vehicles, and three people, including Taylor, and to seize, among other things, drugs and drug paraphernalia, money, safes, weapons, documents and computers. The warrant did not specifically connect Taylor to any alleged drug activity, and Taylor’s family and their attorney have maintained that she was not involved in her ex-boyfriend’s alleged drug trade.
Taylor, described by relatives as a hard-working, goal-oriented young woman who placed an emphasis on family, had been working as a certified emergency medical technician at the time of her death.
Taylor was sleeping next to her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker III, in the early hours of March 13, when they heard a noise. They both got up and walked to the door.
“She’s yelling at the top of her lungs — and I am too at this point — ‘who is it?’ ” recalled Walker, her boyfriend. “No answer. No response. No anything.”
Walker told investigators when he heard banging at the door his first thought was that it was Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. He was concerned there might be trouble, so he grabbed his gun.
As Walker and Taylor made their way down a hallway toward the front door, Walker said, the door flew off its hinges.
“So I just let off one shot,” he said. “I still can’t see who it is or anything.”
Cameron said Wednesday the officers both knocked and announced their presence at the apartment — an account he insisted was corroborated by a witness near Taylor’s apartment.
After the officers used a battering ram to enter, Mattingly was shot in the leg, severing his femoral artery, he told investigators.
He and the two detectives — Hankison and Cosgrove — then fired their guns, according to the CNN review. Taylor was killed and Walker, who was unharmed, dialed 911 and told the operator someone had kicked in the door and shot his girlfriend.
Walker was arrested and, six days later, indicted for the attempted murder of a police officer. The Louisville area’s top local prosecutor later agreed to have the indictment against Walker dismissed.
Officer accused of ‘blindly’ firing 10 shots
Mattingly’s attorney, Todd McMurtry, defended his client’s conduct.
“Sgt. Mattingly was following orders of superior officers, was not involved in the planning process of the arrest, and at all times followed established police procedures,” McMurtry said.
The chaotic police operation that night was exacerbated by Hankison, who was accused by his own department of “blindly” firing 10 bullets into Taylor’s apartment from an outdoor patio. Hankison is appealing his termination. His attorney, David Leightty, has declined to comment.
The officers were not wearing body cameras, police said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported which officer fired the shot that killed Breonna Taylor. That shot was fired by Detective Myles Cosgrove, according to Attorney General Daniel Cameron.