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Violence erupts after 1 officer indicted in Breonna Taylor case — for shooting into neighbor's apartment

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 9/24/2020 By Noah Goldberg, Leonard Greene and Nancy Dillon, New York Daily News
a group of people wearing costumes: Activist Tamika Mallory, from the Until Freedom organization, speaks ahead of the grand jury verdict on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky. © Brandon Bell/Getty Images North America/TNS Activist Tamika Mallory, from the Until Freedom organization, speaks ahead of the grand jury verdict on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Two Louisville, Kentucky, police officers were shot Wednesday night amid protests that erupted after the indictment of just one officer involved in the death of Breonna Taylor — for charges related to the “endangerment” of her white neighbors.

The two officers were taken to the hospital, Police Chief Robert Schroeder said, and a suspect was in custody.

Schroder said the officers’ injuries appeared to be non-life-threatening. One was “alert and stable,” the chief said; the other was in surgery. The gunfire was reported about 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.

a man holding a pair of people wearing costumes: A protestor raises his hands in the air during a standoff with law enforcement on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky. © Brandon Bell/Getty Images North America/TNS A protestor raises his hands in the air during a standoff with law enforcement on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky.

The protests came after a grand jury charged former Louisville Metro Police Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of felony wanton endangerment after finding some of his bullets whipped by Taylor and entered a nearby apartment occupied by a man, a pregnant woman and a child.

a group of people standing outside of a building: Police officers make arrests during protests on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky, as protesters march in the streets after a Kentucky grand jury produced only tangential charges in the the killing of Breonna Taylor at the hands of three Louisville Metro Police officers during a no-knock warrant at her apartment on March 13, 2020. © Brandon Bell/Getty Images North America/TNS Police officers make arrests during protests on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky, as protesters march in the streets after a Kentucky grand jury produced only tangential charges in the the killing of Breonna Taylor at the hands of three Louisville Metro Police officers during a no-knock warrant at her apartment on March 13, 2020.

Taylor, meanwhile, was struck six times by .40 caliber bullets fired by Detective Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. John Mattingly as the officers served a no-knock warrant on her apartment in the “wee hours” of March 13 as part of a narcotics investigation, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said at a news conference.

Taylor, 26, was a Black EMT, emergency room technician and aspiring nurse who had already gone to bed that night when the officers used a battering ram to burst through her door. The terrifying intrusion caused her licensed gun-owner boyfriend Kenneth Walker to fire a warning shot, lawyers for Taylor’s family have said.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Demonstrators march in the streets in Louisville, Kentucky, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, after a Kentucky grand jury produced only tangential charges in the killing of Breonna Taylor at the hands of three Louisville Metro Police officers during a no-knock warrant at her apartment on March 13, 2020. © Brandon Bell/Getty Images North America/TNS Demonstrators march in the streets in Louisville, Kentucky, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, after a Kentucky grand jury produced only tangential charges in the killing of Breonna Taylor at the hands of three Louisville Metro Police officers during a no-knock warrant at her apartment on March 13, 2020.

Giving new details of law enforcement’s six-month investigation, Cameron said Wednesday that Taylor was struck six times — not the five listed in her death certificate. He also claimed the officers “both knocked and announced” themselves, a detail Taylor’s family and other witnesses dispute.

a man standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: In a handout photo provided by the Shelby County Detention Center, former detective Brett Hankison poses for a mug shot on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky. Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the night Breonna Taylor was killed by police. © Shelby County Detention Center/Getty Images North America/TNS In a handout photo provided by the Shelby County Detention Center, former detective Brett Hankison poses for a mug shot on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky. Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the night Breonna Taylor was killed by police.

Mattingly was “the first and only officer to enter the residence,” Cameron said. He allegedly saw the couple standing together at the “end of the hall,” with Walker “holding a gun, arms extended in a shooting stance,” Cameron said.

Walker fired first, his 9-millimeter round striking Mattingly in the thigh.

“Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend,” Walker said in his clearly confused 911 call.

Mattingly fired six shots, Cameron said, while Cosgrove fired his weapon 16 times “almost simultaneously” from the doorway.

a close up of text on a map: Locator map of Louisville Kentucky © Staff/TNS/TNS Locator map of Louisville Kentucky

The prosecutor said his investigation determined only one of the shots that hit Taylor was fatal. He said it was fired by Cosgrove and likely ended her life within a couple minutes.

Cameron said there’s no “conclusive evidence” that any of Hankison’s bullets struck Taylor.

“Our investigation found that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Cameron said.

If convicted as charged, Hankison faces a maximum of five years in prison for each wanton endangerment count.

President Donald Trump addressed the ruling, saying, “I thought it was really brilliant, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, he’s doing a fantastic job, I think he’s a star.” Yet he offered no sympathy or support for Taylor’s family. The president said he’d been in touch with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, praising him for deploying the National Guard.

Lawyers for the Taylor family issued a joint statement calling the grand jury decision “outrageous and offensive to Breonna Taylor’s memory.”

“If Hankison’s behavior constituted wanton endangerment of the people in the apartment next to hers, then it should also be considered wanton endangerment of Breonna,” said the lawyers, including civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

They called it “ironic and typical” that the only charges in the indictment involve the bullets that entered the apartment of the white neighbor. They said the decision ignores the “shots fired into the Black neighbor’s apartment” upstairs.

a group of people standing around a bag of luggage: Protesters gather in front of the Breonna Taylor memorial in Jefferson Square Park on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. A grand jury on Wednesday decided to indict one of three Louisville, Kentucky, officers involved in the shooting death of Taylor. © Jon Cherry/Getty Images North America/TNS Protesters gather in front of the Breonna Taylor memorial in Jefferson Square Park on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. A grand jury on Wednesday decided to indict one of three Louisville, Kentucky, officers involved in the shooting death of Taylor.

“This amounts to the most egregious disrespect of Black people, especially Black women, killed by police in America, and it’s indefensible,” the lawyers said.

Taylor has become an internationally recognized face of Black Lives Matter protests, her name ringing out alongside George Floyd’s and many others and her image emblazoned on posters, walls and T-shirts.

State and local officials had been girding for Wednesday’s announcement for days, with National Guard troops brought in to help shut down streets and enforce a curfew in the city that’s been the site of nightly demonstrations for months.

Officers were already arresting protesters hours before darkness fell.

In New York, protests took place in Manhattan and at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Being in New York City, I feel far away from it in a certain way, like I could do more if I were where George Floyd or Breonna Taylor got killed,” said Kenroy Hardie, 16, from the Bronx. “But in New York City, we have strength in numbers, and a lot of people come out to protest. And police violence is definitely the same across the country.”

Outrage also spread on social media.

“Justice has NOT been served,” tweeted Linda Sarsour, of the activist group Until Freedom.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling during the national anthem turned him into a lightning rod of controversy, tweeted, “The white supremacist institution of policing that stole Breonna Taylor’s life from us must be abolished for the safety and well being of our people.”

More than three months after Taylor’s killing, Hankison was finally fired by the Louisville Metro Police Department, which said he “wantonly and blindly” fired 10 rounds with a shocking disregard for life.

He has appealed his firing. Mattingly and Cosgrove, meanwhile, were not disciplined beyond their administrative reassignment.

Last week, Taylor’s family settled a civil wrongful death lawsuit with Louisville officials for $12 million, the largest amount the city has ever paid over an officer shooting someone.

In his comments Wednesday, Cameron urged people to remain peaceful and focus on the facts in the case.

“The decision before my office as the special prosecutor in this case was not to decide if the loss of Ms. Taylor’s life was a tragedy. … the answer to that is unequivocally yes,” he said.

“I understand that Breonna Taylor’s death is part of a national story, but the facts and evidence in this case are different than others,” he said. “If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice.”

He said “mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”

“There will be celebrities, influencers and activists, who having never lived in Kentucky will try to tell us how to feel, suggesting they understand the facts of this case … better than we do. But they don’t,” he said.

Cameron, who is Black, refused to detail the racial makeup of the investigating team or the grand jury, saying it would be “inappropriate” to share such information given the scrutiny the case has drawn.

His office took over the criminal investigation into Taylor’s death in May, after local prosecutor Tom Wine recused himself from the case, citing a conflict of interest. The FBI is investigating Taylor’s killing separately, though the agency shared evidence with Cameron’s office, including a crucial ballistics report.

Cameron said the scope of his investigation did not include the controversial obtainment of the warrant. The FBI is considering that aspect of the case, he said.

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(Joe Wilkinson, Nelson Oliveira and Chris Sommerfeldt contributed to this story.)

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