Breonna Taylor Case: Brett Hankison indicted on 3 counts of wanton endangerment
Officers Mattingly, Cosgrove cleared
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Former LMPD Det. Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment in connection to the deadly raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment.
One-hundred-ninety-four days after Taylor was killed, and 126 days after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office took over the case, a grand jury announced its findings Wednesday.
Hankison was charged for shooting 10 rounds from outside Taylor’s apartment; some of those shots ended up in adjacent units, which was why he was indicted.
Taylor, 26, was shot six times by LMPD narcotics officers serving a warrant, and left bleeding to death on the floor of her hallway just after midnight on March 13.
“Just wanton endangerment?" a disappointed Trina Curry, Taylor’s aunt, asked WAVE 3 News' Phylicia Ashley. “I don’t know what to even say. I’m sick and tired of being treated like we’re not equal.”
Added Louisville Urban League President Sadiqa Reynolds: “I am suffering. I’m in pain. My heart is broken.”
With Hankison were Sgt. Jon Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove; the trio were placed on administrative reassignment following the shooting, per department protocol. Hankison was later fired for “blindly” shooting those 10 rounds, according to his termination letter. The grand jury did not charge Mattingly or Cosgrove.
Cameron spoke after the grand jury presentation Wednesday afternoon. Several minutes into his own remarks, he cleared up a point of uncertainty that had contributed to the multitude of narratives surrounding the case. The attorney general said the officers knocked on Taylor’s door and announced themselves, contradicting those who had said they did neither. Cameron said interviews with officers and one of Taylor’s neighbors helped him reach that conclusion.
Mattingly was shot in the leg after the officers used a battering ram to get into Taylor’s apartment. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one shot, thinking intruders were breaking in. That bullet struck Mattingly in the femoral artery, but he recovered from his injury. Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but that charge was later dropped.
Cameron said evidence showed Mattingly fired six times, and Cosgrove fired 16 shots, and added that both were justified in returning fire after being fired upon. The attorney general also said the FBI lab confirmed the fatal shot came from Cosgrove but the KSP lab said it was not clear who fired it.
Cameron’s office took over the investigation in May. Protesters have crowded city streets for the nearly four months since; pro athletes, public figures and other celebrities have called for the arrests of the officers involved in Taylor’s death, all during a year when the country is confronting a racial reckoning.
“There’s no doubt this is a gut-wrenching, emotional case,” Cameron said. “My job as the special prosecutor in this case was to put the emotions aside and investigate the facts.
“This is a tragedy. And sometimes, criminal law is not adequate to respond to a tragedy.”
Sam Aguiar, an attorney for the Taylor family, posted his response on Facebook:
"Way to really rub it in. Three counts for the shots into the apartment of the white neighbors, but no counts for the shots into the apartment of the black neighbors upstairs above Breonna’s. Let alone everything else you got wrong.
I’m so sorry Breonna. And Tamika. And Juniyah. And Kenny. And Bianca. And Tahasha. And everyone. This isn’t right and I should’ve done more."
Mattingly’s attorney also issued a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“The grand jury’s decision to not indict Sgt. Mattingly or Det. Cosgrove shows that the system worked and that grand jurors recognized and respected the facts of the case. The death of Breonna Taylor is a tragedy. But these officers did not act in a reckless or unprofessional manner. They did their duty, performed their roles as law enforcement officers and, above all, did not break the law.”
Cameron appeared to leave the door open for further investigation into Joshua Jaynes, among other LMPD officers, for their detective work prior to the Taylor raid. Jaynes was the detective who wrote the warrant that led officers to Taylor’s apartment the night she was killed. The FBI likely would handle such an investigation.
At a hastily-called midday news conference, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced that a 72-hour curfew will begin Wednesday, prohibiting people from being on city streets from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. The goal, Fischer said, is to allow protesters to gather and express their opinions during daylight, but once night falls, anyone not going to work or church or seeking medical services needs to remain indoors.
“We will not tolerate any violence or destruction of property,” LMPD Interim Chief Rob Schroeder said at that news conference.
WAVE 3 News confirmed at about 5 p.m. Wednesday that Hankison was booked into the Shelby County Detention Center and released. His attorney told WAVE sister station WXIX in Cincinnati that his client will plead not guilty when he is arraigned.
“(I don’t) think the evidence will support the charge,” attorney Stew Matthews said.
Hankison could face up to five years in prison for each of the wanton endangerment charges. His bond will be set at $15,000.
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