A grand jury on Wednesday failed to offer indictments for the March killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, in her home in Louisville, Ky., the state’s attorney general said in a news conference.
“The Grand Jury determined that there is no evidence to support a criminal violation of state law caused Ms. Taylor’s death,” said
Attorney General Daniel Cameron. “The Grand Jury found that there was sufficient evidence to indict Detective [Brett] Hankison for wanton endangerment for firing his weapon outside a sliding glass door and through a bedroom window, with some bullets traveling through that apartment and entering the apartment next door while three residents were at home.”
Hankison, who was fired in June, faces up to five years in prison if convicted, Cameron said at a news conference.
Faith leaders critiqued the jury's decision for failing to indict all three officers and for failing to charge anyone for murder.
“This is really INSUFFICIENT,” public theologian Rev. Dr. Pamela R. Lightsey said in a tweet
. “A woman was murdered while in her home in her bed and one cannot truly call this justice.”
“This ruling means we are never safe, in our homes or in the streets,” tweeted
biblical scholar Rev. Wil Gafney, a professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School. “Police can break into any home with or without a warrant or break into the wrong house and murder us in our beds and try to frame us after our deaths at their hand.”
Hankison was with two colleagues when they shot into the apartment of Taylor, 26, killing her in front of her boyfriend after police forced their way into her apartment with a so-called “no knock” warrant, which allowed police to forcibly enter a premises without warning — and was banned in Louisville in May.
According to Cameron, the two other officers, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not charged because the investigation showed that under Kentucky law they “were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Taylor's boyfriend.
Walker’s attorney has said Walker fired in self-defense and had not heard the police announce themselves. “I am a legal gun owner and I would never knowingly shoot a police officer,” Walker said at a news conference. “Breonna and I did not know who was banging at the door, but police know what they did.”
Both Mattingly and Cosgrove were reassigned to administrative duties. Walker was initially charged with attempted murder, though those charges were later dropped.
In anticipation of the decision, crowds gathered in Louisville's Jefferson Square Park, which has been a site of regular demonstrations since the deaths of Taylor and George Floyd sparked a nationwide wave of protests.
“I urge everybody to choose peaceful and lawful protest,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, a white Democrat, said shortly before the announcement. “This is obviously a really important time for our city. I want us to think about our kids and our grandkids and get this right.” Earlier this week, Fischer announced a 72-hour curfew for the city beginning at 9 p.m., with exceptions for those going to work or to seek medical treatment.
Louisville has agreed to pay $12 million to Taylor's family to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit, Mayor Fischer announced earlier this month.
Reuters reporting contributed to this story.