LegalReader.com  ·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lack of Charges in Breonna Taylor Shooting Spur Outrage, Protests


— September 24, 2020

Protests have broken out in Kentucky and across the United States after Louisville prosecutors failed to bring charges against the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Taylor, a Black woman from Louisville, was killed by police officers during a no-knock drug raid. Plainclothes detectives stormed Taylor’s apartment in the middle of the night. Her boyfriend, suspecting a home invasion, shot a single bullet through the bedroom door—prompting officers to open fire.

Taylor was killed in the largely one-sided exchange. Later reports suggested that officers had neither announced they were law enforcement before entering Taylor’s apartment, nor had they established a clear line of sight into the bedroom before shooting.

While Louisville’s police department was quick to defend its officers’ actions, prosecutors later vowed to take up the case.

Now, protests are breaking out across the United States in response to the city’s follow-up.

Two of the three officers involved in Taylor’s killing have not faced any criminal charges. On Wednesday, the third—identified by BBC as Brett Hankison—was charged not with Taylor’s death but for firing into one of her neighbor’s apartments.

Under Kentucky law, Hankison may be guilty of wanton endangerment, having potentially demonstrated through his actions “an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

Brown and gold gave; image by Bill Oxford, via Unsplash.com.
Brown and gold gave; image by Bill Oxford, via Unsplash.com.

But Taylor’s family—and their supporters—had been calling for the involved officers to face charges of either manslaughter or murder.

However, all three were cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury.

In a statement, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, called the case “gut-wrenching” and “emotional.”

“There is nothing I can offer them today to take away the grief and heartache as the result of losing a child, a niece, a sister, and a friend,” Cameron said.

Cameron then said he believed the other two officers, Hankison aside, had been “justified to protect themselves and the justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges.”

“If we act simply on emotion or outrage, there is no justice,” Cameron said.

Cameron’s decision and rationale have since come under extensive criticism. Benjamin Crump, the Taylor family’s attorney, called Cameron’s comments “outrageous” and “offensive.”

“The fact that you’re going to charge for bullets going into an apartment but not bullets going into Breonna Taylor’s body is outrageous,” Crump said. “There are two justice systems in America: one for Black America, one for White America.”

Protests have since broken out in Louisville.

On Wednesday, the city’s mayor ordered a 72-hour curfew effective from Wednesday evening. Shortly before the curfew was set to begin, two officers were shot and injured near a protest march.

CNN notes that demonstrations, marches, and protests have taken place in a number of cities across the U.S. following Cameron’s announcement.

Sources

Breonna Taylor: Police officer charged but not over death

Outrage over lack of charges in Breonna Taylor’s death turns into protests across the US

Join the conversation!