“A grand jury indicted a former Louisville police officer on Wednesday for wanton endangerment during a botched drug raid that led to the death of Breonna Taylor in March. No charges were announced against the other two officers who fired shots, and no one was charged for causing her death.
The three-count indictment concerns Brett Hankison, a detective at the time, who fired into the sliding glass patio door and window of Ms. Taylor’s apartment building, both of which were covered with blinds, in violation of a department policy that requires officers to have a line of sight.
He is the only one of the three officers who was dismissed from the force, with a termination letter stating that he showed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
In a news conference following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision, Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, said, “The decision before my office is not to decide if the loss of Breonna Taylor’s life was a tragedy — the answer to that question is unequivocally yes,” he said.
He added, “The pain people are feeling is understandable. I deeply care about the value and sanctity of human life, which deserves protection, and in this case a human life was lost,” he said, and went on to say: “My job was to put emotions aside and determine if criminal violations of state law resulted in the loss of her life.”
The decision came after more than 100 days of protests and a monthslong investigation into the death of Ms. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician who was shot five times in the hallway of her apartment by officers executing a search warrant.
Because the officers did not shoot first — it was the young woman’s boyfriend who opened fire; he has said he mistook the police for intruders — many legal experts had thought it unlikely the officers would be indicted for her death.
Ms. Taylor’s name and image have become part of a national movement over racial injustice, with celebrities writing open letters and erecting billboards demanding that the white officers be criminally charged for the death of a young Black woman. City and state officials feared that a grand jury decision not to prosecute the officers would inflame a city that has been roiled by demonstrations that have sometimes turned violent.
Ms. Taylor’s mother sued the city of Louisville for wrongful death and received a $12 million settlement last week. But she and her lawyers have insisted that nothing short of murder charges for all three officers would be enough, a demand taken up by thousands of protesters in Kentucky and across the country.
Many legal experts said that indictments would be unlikely, given the state’s statute allowing citizens to use lethal force in self-defense. John W. Stewart, a former assistant attorney general in Kentucky, said he believed that at least two of the officers who opened fire were protected by that law.
“As an African-American, as someone who has been victim of police misconduct myself, getting pulled over and profiled, I know how people feel,” Mr. Stewart said. “I have been there, but I have also been a prosecutor, and emotions cannot play a part here.”
Two officers, Sgt. Jon Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, returned fire in the direction of Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, according to internal documents. In the chaos that ensued, Sergeant Mattingly was shot, injuring the femoral artery in his leg, and the others scrambled to drag him out of the apartment and apply a tourniquet to his leg.”