One former officer was indicted. Two other officers who fired shots were not charged.
A grand jury on Wednesday indicted a former Louisville police detective for endangering Breonna Taylor’s neighbors by recklessly firing his gun during a raid on her apartment in March, but no officer was charged with killing Ms. Taylor.
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.
At least some of his rounds traveled through the walls into the apartment directly behind Ms. Taylor’s, where a pregnant woman, her husband and their 5-year-old child were asleep. The rounds shattered a glass door of the adjoining apartment, but did not harm the couple and their child.
Mr. Hankison 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 later added, “I know that not everyone will be satisfied. Our job is to present the facts to the grand jury, and the grand jury then applies the facts,” he said, adding: “If we simply act on outrage, there is no justice — mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”
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 in 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.
In Louisville, protesters erupted in anger over the grand jury’s decision.
Protesters gathered in downtown Louisville shrieked in disgust after the charges in the Breonna Taylor case were announced. They were particularly upset that the only officer charged was required to post a bond of just $15,000.
After the announcement, which the protesters listened to live, ended with only one officer charged, people yelled “That’s it?”
Some people swore. One person called for the crowd to burn the city down. Several people sobbed and had to be consoled.
One woman sitting on a chair with a T-shirt printed with Ms. Taylor’s image had to be consoled by several people.
“It tells people, cops can kill you in the sanctity of your own home,” Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist, said as she wiped tears from her face.
Desaray Yarbrough, who lives in Louisville and came out of her house when the march came by, said the attorney general’s announcement would do nothing to quell angry demonstrators.
“It’s unjustifiable,” Ms. Yarbrough said. “The lack of charges is getting ready to bring the city down.”
Protesters started marching through the streets shortly after the decision was announced, as a helicopter buzzed overhead.
For about 10 minutes, a group of about 150 protesters blocked the intersection of Broadway and 6th Street, just outside the barricade.
Protesters argued with angry drivers who had their way blocked. Most cars turned around at the direction of the protesters who stood in their way.
Within minutes, more than a dozen police officers arrived, and the protesters continued down Broadway.
Block by block, the police caravan followed. Some, armed with assault rifles, stood by their vehicles.
On 2nd Street, four police cruisers in line with the march were surrounded by demonstrators.
Many walked by with their hands up, while a few yelled at the officers and held up their middle fingers.
By 2:15, about 250 demonstrators were marching, with as many as two dozen police cruisers in pursuit.
The officer is charged with ‘wanton endangerment.’ What does that mean?
The grand jury indicted Mr. Hankison for three counts of “wanton endangerment in the first degree,” a felony that carries up to five years in prison for each count.
Mr. Cameron, the Kentucky attorney general who will now oversee the prosecution of Mr. Hankison, said the former detective had been charged with the crimes because the grand jury believed that the shots he fired had endangered three people in an apartment next to Ms. Taylor’s.
Under Kentucky law, a person is guilty of the crime 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.”
Mr. Cameron said on Wednesday that the F.B.I. was still investigating whether any of the officers committed a federal crime, such as violating Ms. Taylor’s civil rights.-
Other cities are bracing for protests.
In anticipation of the grand jury’s decision, Louisville police officers placed barricades around downtown this week to reduce access to the area, and Robert J. Schroeder, the city’s interim police chief, told officers that he would not approve any requests for time off.
“We all know something is coming,” Mr. Schroeder said on Tuesday. “We don’t know what it is.”
Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat, issued a state of emergency order on Tuesday in anticipation of possible “civil unrest” following the announcement of the grand jury decision by the Kentucky attorney general. A local judge also signed an order shutting down the federal courthouse in downtown.
Mr. Fischer said on Twitter that the restrictions on the city’s downtown were to keep people safe while allowing for possible protests.
Anger over Ms. Taylor’s killing has spread far from Louisville, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois indicated this week that he was also preparing for the grand jury’s decision. A spokeswoman for Mr. Pritzker said that he had spoken to Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, and had asked the state’s National Guard to be ready for the possibility of demonstrations in Illinois.
Activists anxiously awaited the announcement of charges.
Less than an hour before the expected announcement, dozens of activists and organizers gathered in Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville on Wednesday, anxious yet preparing for what would come next.
The square has been the site of a makeshift memorial, with flowers, protest signs and paintings of Ms. Taylor laid out in honor of those who have died at the hands of the police.
Organizers urged demonstrators not to give the police a reason to use force against them, calling on protesters to remain resolute in their calls for change.
“We all know this announcement is a start clock for the next level of our protest,” Shameka Parrish-Wright, a co-chair of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, told the assembled crowd.
Domo Bolden, 22 of Louisville, was writing the phone number for a jail help hotline on bright orange wristbands that he was handing out to protesters. Mr. Bolden, an artist and entrepreneur, said he had been protesting for more than 80 of the 119 days that demonstrators in Louisville had been rallying for Ms. Taylor.
“If the verdict doesn’t come back the way the people want it or the way it’s supposed to be, who knows,” Mr. Bolden said. “If there’s no justice, there’s no peace, period.”
Police officers with a ‘no-knock’ warrant broke down Ms. Taylor’s door.
The officers who broke down Ms. Taylor’s door shortly after midnight on March 13 had come with a search warrant, signed by a local magistrate. They had court approval for a “no-knock” warrant, which Louisville has since banned, but the orders were changed before the raid, requiring them to knock first and announce themselves as the police.
Mr. Walker has said that he and Ms. Taylor did not know who was at her door. Only one neighbor, out of nearly a dozen, reported hearing the officers shout “police” before entering.
The warrant for Ms. Taylor’s apartment was one of five issued in a case involving her ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, who is accused of running a drug trafficking syndicate. At the other addresses that were searched, officers found a table covered in drugs packaged for sale, including a plastic sachet containing cocaine and fentanyl, police logs and a laboratory report show.
The surveillance leading police officers to Ms. Taylor’s home included a GPS tracker showing repeated trips by Mr. Glover to her home; photographs of him emerging from her apartment with a package in his hands; footage showing her in a car with Mr. Glover arriving at one of the trap houses he operated; and his use of her address on bank records and other documents. The F.B.I. has opened an investigation into whether the inclusion of her name and address on the warrant violated her civil rights, as her family’s lawyers have claimed.
Ms. Taylor’s death became a Black Lives Matter rallying cry.
For months, Ms. Taylor’s death has been a rallying cry. Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, called out her name during the Democratic National Convention. Oprah Winfrey paid for billboards demanding the officers be charged, writing in her magazine, “We have to use whatever megaphone we can.”
Frustration has mounted in Louisville at the pace of the investigation into the fatal shooting. That frustration has been compounded by a city administration that refused to release basic records — including her autopsy and the body camera footage of officers who responded to the shooting — and that made inexplicable errors in some of the documents it did release, including a report incorrectly claiming that she had not been injured and that the door to her apartment was never breached.
Mr. Cameron, a Republican attorney general who ran on a law-and-order platform, had to navigate both the demands of protesters and the constraints of the law, said Frank Mascagni III, a former assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Louisville.
“My city is going to blow up if these three men are not charged,” said Mr. Mascagni, who believes that the officers’ actions are protected under the law. “I’m very nervous for what I think is going to occur.”
Who are the four officers involved in the Taylor case?
Sgt. Jon Mattingly, 47, a 20-year veteran of the Louisville Metro Police Department, had spent the last four years in the narcotics division.
After officers knocked down the door to Ms. Taylor’s apartment, Sergeant Mattingly was the first officer to step inside. According to a statement he gave to investigators, he said that he saw a male and a female figure standing at the end of a hallway.
The male figure, who was Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was standing with his hands stretched out, holding a gun, Sergeant Mattingly said. “My mind’s going, this ain’t right.”
When Mr. Walker fired, Sergeant Mattingly said, he felt a sensation of heat in his leg, and then returned fire six times, stumbling over and falling. He had been hit in the femoral artery, with the bullet tearing through his thigh and exiting out the back, according to his statement.
Detective Myles Cosgrove, 42, has been with the Police Department for more than 15 years, including the last three in the narcotics division.
He was the second person inside Ms. Taylor’s apartment after an officer with a battering ram tore the door of its hinges, and returned fire down the hallway after Mr. Walker shot in the direction of the officers. It’s unclear how many rounds Detective Cosgrove fired.
Detective Brett Hankison, 44, had been an officer with the department since 2003 and was assigned to the narcotics division. He is the only one of the three officers who opened fire that night with a history of complaints of excessive force, as well as allegations of sexual misconduct.
According to a review of his personnel file obtained by The Times, nearly all of the complaints against him were dismissed or deemed not credible. But one record in his file showed he was reprimanded at least three times, including for causing a car wreck in 2016 that fractured the spine of another officer.
During the shooting, Mr. Hankison was initially positioned behind other officers, but after Mr. Walker opened fire, he ran out of the breezeway into the parking lot and fired at least 10 rounds into the sliding-glass door and window of Ms. Taylor’s apartment.
He is the only one of the three officers who was fired and charged. The police chief at the time said in a public termination letter that Mr. Hankison’s actions “were a shock to the conscience,” and a violation of department policy because he fired without a line of sight, through the covered window and door, which were obscured by blinds.
Detective Joshua Jaynes, 38, has been with the Police Department since 2006, and had recently been assigned to the new Place-Based Investigations Unit, which was created in December 2019.
He prepared the five search warrant affidavits for simultaneous no-knock raids at locations suspected of playing a role in the local drug trade, including Ms. Taylor’s apartment. Lawyers for Ms. Taylor have said that the information tying her apartment to the drug trafficking syndicate was flawed and insufficient.
In the search warrant application, Detective Jaynes claimed that he had spoken to the postal inspector and had confirmed that parcels suspected of being part of the drug trade were being sent to Ms. Taylor’s apartment by an ex-boyfriend.
But Detective Jaynes did not speak directly to the postal inspector himself; he had relied on a neighboring police department to do so, because the Louisville Metro Police Department had a strained relationship with the postal inspector.
Detective Jaynes was placed on administrative reassignment in June amid the investigation into Ms. Taylor’s death, The Louisville Courier Journal reported.
Reporting was contributed by Richard A. Oppel Jr., Derrick Bryson Taylor and Will Wright.