People react after a decision in the criminal case against police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead by police in her apartment, in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Former Officer Brett Hankison was indicted on three charges of wanton endangerment by a Kentucky grand jury for shooting into neighboring apartments while serving a “no-knock” search warrant. Hankison faces a maximum of five years in prison and is being held on a $15,000 bond. No charges were filed against Hankison or the other two officers involved for their role in Breonna Taylor’s death. In anticipation of the grand jury announcement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer declared a state of emergency. The Louisville Metro Police Department also “accelerate[d] plans to physically restrict access to the downtown area.”

Police officers fatally shot Taylor on March 13 when they attempted to execute a search warrant in plainclothes. They were investigating the activities of Jarmarcus Glover, her ex-boyfriend. Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep at the time three officers used a battering ram to enter the apartment. Walker, believing a home invasion was in progress, shot at the officers, who returned fire. Taylor was fatally struck with eight bullets.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said his office’s job was not to decide whether Taylor’s death “was a tragedy. The answer to that is unequivocally yes.” He said the investigation was narrow; potential civil rights violations would be investigated by federal authorities and potential criminal violations would be investigated by the state.

Ahead of the grand jury announcement, Sgt. Jon Mattingly sent an email to his colleagues that accused “pencil pushers at the top” of failing the police and covering for themselves. He encouraged police to “do what you need to do” during potential protests following the grand jury verdict. Mattingly was one of the officers involved in the incident.

Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Taylor’s family, described the lack of charges in connection with her death as “outrageous and offensive.” Pastor Tim Findley, a regular at recent protests for Taylor, said, “It’s a tragedy. This is an embarrassment, and it’s exactly why there have been protests for the last (119) days.” He called the charges “a slap on the wrist” for Hankison.

The city recently settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Taylor’s family for $12 million, in addition to outlining a series of police reforms.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Kentucky grand jury indicts 1 of 3 officers in fatal Breonna Taylor police shooting – USA Today – 9/23/2020
Protesters in Louisville almost immediately began chanting “No justice, no peace.” “I’m heartbroken,” Logan Cleaver, a protester, said Wednesday immediately after the grand jury’s decision was announced. “This is not a justice system if it’s not for everybody.” The announcement comes after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office presented its findings to the jury earlier this week. His team has been investigating the Taylor shooting since May.

Breonna Taylor case: What is first degree wanton endangerment? – KHOU – 9/23/2020
“A person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.”

Ex-officer Brett Hankison indicted in connection with Breonna Taylor’s death – CNN – 9/23/2020
The long-awaited charges against the former officer, Brett Hankison, were immediately criticized by demonstrators who had demanded more serious counts and the arrests of the three officers involved in the March shooting. The charges pertain to Hankison allegedly firing blindly through a door and window in Taylor’s building. […] Demonstrators at a makeshift memorial to Taylor in downtown Louisville called for Cameron to step down after the charges were announced in court and the former’s detective’s bond was set at $15,000.

Philadelphia officials prepare for protests following grand jury decision in Breonna Taylor case – Fox 29 Philadelphia – 9/23/2020
“I know that many Philadelphians are feeling disappointed, frustrated, and even outraged, following today’s announcement by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron,” said Mayor Kenney. “The City of Philadelphia fully supports the First Amendment rights of our residents, but we also want to ensure that any demonstration activity that happens is done in a safe, lawful manner. We are not aware of any specific threats of violence or looting, but we are sharing guidance to help businesses be prepared in case the situation escalates.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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