Breonna Taylor, Louisville Updates: 2 Officers Shot in Protests
Two Louisville police officers were shot during a night of protests.
Two Louisville police officers were shot during demonstrations on Wednesday night, the police chief said, after a grand jury decided to not charge any officer in the killing of Breonna Taylor, instead indicting one former detective for recklessly firing into another apartment during the raid of Ms. Taylor’s home.
Robert J. Schroeder, the Louisville police chief, said at a brief news conference that a suspect was in custody and that neither of the officers’ injuries were life-threatening. One of the officers was alert and stable, and the other was in surgery, he said.
“I am very concerned about the safety of our officers,” Chief Schroeder said. “Obviously, we’ve had two officers shot tonight, and that is very serious; it’s a very dangerous condition.”
Although no officer was charged with killing Ms. Taylor, grand jurors indicted Brett Hankison, a former detective, on three counts of “wanton endangerment” earlier on Wednesday, saying he had threatened the lives of three people who lived next to Ms. Taylor’s apartment by firing bullets that landed in theirs.
In the hours after that announcement, 46 people were arrested during protests in Louisville, said Sgt. Lamont Washington, a police spokesman.
The shooting of the two officers happened during a video livestreamed by the Louisville Metro Police Department, in which officers could be seen marching south down South Brook Street from East Broadway. In the video, several projectiles were launched from the area of the police line and made loud bangs as they burst in the air.
Moments later, several other bangs were heard, and the officers scattered. A spokesman said the officers were shot several blocks away, near the corner of South Brook and East College Streets.
“Shots fired, shots fired,” the woman recording the livestream said as she ran for cover. At least a dozen officers took cover behind a police truck, and officers began shouting “Officer down!”
“Get to cover!” another yelled, as the officers retreated toward a nearby Walgreens. “We got one down!”
A group of about 350 protesters split up at the sound of gunshots, many running through parking lots and nearby yards. The police shot at least one protester in the neck with a projectile.
‘There are Breonnas everywhere’: Protesters nationwide demand justice.
In Los Angeles, they gathered in front of the Hall of Justice. In Dallas, they gathered outside the Police Department headquarters. In Minnesota, they gathered at the Capitol.
And in Norfolk, Va., one man held a sign that said, “There are Breonnas everywhere.”
Anger over Ms. Taylor’s killing and the prosecutors’ handling of the case has spread far from Louisville, with protests on Wednesday night drawing crowds in New York, Chicago and Seattle. Some rallies, like those in Portland, Maine, and Memphis, were small but vocal.
Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of New York, including a group in Brooklyn that met outside the Barclays Center and swelled to around 2,000 people as it marched across the Manhattan Bridge and shut down traffic. Huey Freeman said that she had been protesting since demonstrations began this summer, and that seeing so many people gather again felt like a resurgent movement. “It means that the people want justice even if the system doesn’t,” she said.
In Portland, Ore., a person in a crowd of protesters threw a Molotov cocktail at a line of police officers, sending the officers running for safety as flames erupted on the street. Others in the crowd of several hundred lit small fires on the facade of a Portland Police Bureau building, and the authorities declared the gathering a riot.
In St. Paul, Minn., Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by a police officer in 2016, spoke at a rally outside the Capitol. “I don’t want this incident to get swept under the rug and everybody forgets about all the innocent lives that have been taken,” Ms. Reynolds said. “We can never forget about any of these lives.”
The police in Denver arrested a man who they said drove a car into a protest near the State Capitol building Wednesday night. No injuries were reported. Video taken by a reporter for The Denver Post showed a crowd surrounding the vehicle before the driver accelerated through them, throwing one person to the ground.
About 100 people joined the Rev. Michael Pfleger in a march on Chicago’s South Side, stopping to shut down traffic in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood for about an hour. The protesters using a gallon of fake blood to spell out “Breonna” in the middle of the intersection, and then sat in the street and chanted, “We want justice, we want it now.”
In Seattle, about 200 protesters in raincoats and ponchos marched through downtown. Video posted on social media showed police officers on bikes riding over a person who attempted to block their way. Another clip showed an officer being hit in the head with a baseball bat. Shortly after midnight, the police declared the protest unlawful. At least 13 people were arrested, according to the police, and multiple officers were injured, including the one hit in the head with the bat.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety’s SWAT team used “less lethal gas” after “unruly protesters” in Atlanta ignored orders not to climb on a SWAT vehicle, said Franka Young, a department spokeswoman. One video posted on Twitter shows a SWAT team member pushing, then kicking a canister that is releasing a white gas toward protesters.
In Buffalo, a pickup truck drove through a group of protesters in Niagara Square about 8:45 p.m. and struck a protester who was on a bicycle, the Police Department said. The person who was hit was taken to Erie County Medical Center with what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries.
About 50 people gathered on a Milwaukee street corner for a candlelight vigil, by turns silent and spirited, in front of a large mural of Ms. Taylor on a brick wall. “This is not going to end until we challenge the systems,” said Pilar Olvera, stressing that Black women could not fight the battle alone. Shortly after, a woman led the crowd in a call and response: “Say her name! Breonna Taylor!”
Professional athletes, who championed Taylor’s cause, voice their anger.
Professional athletes across the country took to social media to vent their frustrations over the grand jury’s decision, again highlighting their role in focusing public attention on race and policing.
“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,” Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, posted on Twitter. Mr. Kaepernick became a political lightning rod and lost his job in the N.F.L. after taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016.
Ms. Taylor’s death was among the few high-profile police shootings in which a woman was killed since the start of the Black Lives Matter movement, and female athletes have been instrumental in directing attention to the investigation.
The W.N.B.A. dedicated its season to Ms. Taylor. Players wore her name on their jerseys, held moments of silence and supported the #SayHerName campaign meant to keep her case in the public eye.
“We time and time again hope for a sliver of justice but why would we get that when the system is designed to protect the very folks that are murdering and terrorizing us,” Layshia Clarendon of the New York Liberty, who is a member of the W.N.B.A.’s Social Justice Council, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “This isn’t a bad apple, it’s a rotten tree.”
“My heart is with the family of Breonna Taylor right now,” wrote Megan Rapinoe, captain of the U.S. women’s national soccer team. “My god. This is devastating and unfortunately not surprising. Black and brown fold in this country deserve so much more.”
Members of the N.B.A., who are often ahead of the curve in calling for social justice, were especially vocal about their disappointment in the grand jury’s decision. There were no on-court displays for Ms. Taylor in a game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat after Wednesday’s announcement, but N.B.A. players spoke out elsewhere, as did the head of their union.
“Sadly, there was no justice today for Breonna Taylor,” Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, wrote in a statement, saying that Ms. Taylor’s death was the result of “callous and careless decisions made with a lack of regard for humanity.”
“Our players and I once again extend our deepest sympathies to her family and we vow to continue working in her honor and to always say her name,” she added.
On Instagram, LeBron James simply said, “So so sorry!!!!”
It is rare for any police officer who causes a death to be prosecuted.
The lack of a murder or manslaughter indictment against any of the officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor was an outrage to many — but not a surprise. Even as protests erupt in cities across American in response to incidents of police brutality, a gulf remains between the public perception of that violence and how it is treated in court.
Few police officers who cause a death in the line of duty are ever charged with murder or manslaughter — and only about one-third of the few who are charged are ever convicted.
Law enforcement officers kill about 1,000 people a year across the United States. Since the beginning of 2005, 121 officers have been arrested on charges of murder or manslaughter in on-duty killings, according to data compiled by Philip M. Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Of the 95 officers whose cases have concluded, 44 were convicted, but often on a lesser charge, he said.
In the case against the Minneapolis officers charged with killing George Floyd, whose videotaped death in May shocked the nation and was almost universally denounced, the prosecutor, Attorney General Keith Ellison, has warned of the difficulty of prosecuting officers.
“Trying this case will not be an easy thing,” Mr. Ellison said in June, even as he announced that he was raising the charge against one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, to second-degree murder. “Winning a conviction will be hard. History does show that there are clear challenges here.”
The grand jury did not charge the two officers who shot Ms. Taylor.
A grand jury indicted a former Louisville police detective on Wednesday for endangering Breonna Taylor’s neighbors by recklessly firing his gun during a raid on her apartment in March, but the two officers who shot Ms. Taylor were not charged in her death.
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 six times in the hallway of her apartment by officers executing a search warrant.
In a news conference following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision, Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, said he knew that some people would not be satisfied.
“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,” Mr. Cameron said.
He later added: “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.”
Tamika Palmer, Ms. Taylor’s mother, drove to Frankfort, Ky., on Wednesday afternoon to be briefed on the charges by the attorney general, said her lawyer, Sam Aguiar. Advocates for the family had requested that she be briefed at least two hours before the public announcement, but they said Mr. Cameron told her the news 13 minutes before a planned news conference.
She wept, said Mr. Aguiar, who was also present.
Because the officers did not shoot first — it was the young woman’s boyfriend who opened fire, striking one officer in the leg; he has said he mistook the police for intruders — many legal experts had thought it unlikely the officers would be indicted in her death.
Three officers fired a total of 32 shots, Mr. Cameron said. Rounds fired by Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove struck Ms. Taylor, he said, while Mr. Hankison fired 10 rounds, none of which struck Ms. Taylor.
Mr. Hankison 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. Some of the bullets entered a nearby apartment where a pregnant woman, her husband and their 5-year-old child were asleep. Mr. Hankison was dismissed from the force, with a termination letter stating that he showed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
Ms. Taylor’s name and image have become part of the national movement over racial injustice since May, with celebrities writing open letters and erecting billboards that demanded the white officers be criminally charged. Ms. Palmer sued the city of Louisville for wrongful death and received a $12 million settlement last week. But she and her lawyers insisted that nothing short of murder charges would be enough, a demand taken up by protesters nationwide.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for the family, wrote on Twitter that the failure to charge any officer for killing Ms. Taylor was “outrageous and offensive.” Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky and Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, both Democrats, called on the attorney general, a Republican, to publish as much of the evidence as possible online so that the public could review it.
Many legal experts said before the charges were announced that indictments for killing Ms. Taylor 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 Sergeant Mattingly and Detective Cosgrove 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.”
Swearing and sobbing in Louisville after 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, people yelled “That’s it?”
Some people swore, and several people sobbed. One person called for the crowd to burn the city down. A 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 an intersection just outside a barricade. Protesters argued with angry drivers, and most cars turned around.
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.
After protesters marched loudly but peacefully through the streets for more than two hours, they were stopped by a line of officers in riot gear in the Highlands section of town.
After a standoff of a few minutes, officers, seemingly without any physical provocation, began charging into protesters and forcing them back. Some used batons to push protesters. A chemical agent released by the police left a burning, peppery scent in the air.
Officers began grabbing some demonstrators and forcing them to the ground to arrest them. An officer said on a loudspeaker that the assembly had been declared unlawful and told people to disperse.
Near Jefferson Square Park, after a march around the city had returned, police arrested a handful of demonstrators. Officers used their batons to push about 30 protesters closer and closer together, until people were shoulder to shoulder. After about a minute, the police opened a hole in their barricade and allowed the crowd to escape.
A local entrepreneur who goes by the name Scoota Truth, 35, joined the march through the city on Wednesday and said it was time to see real change.
“If anyone can get killed how Breonna got killed by the police, there’s no way we should live in a society where that’s possible,” he said.
A former officer was charged with ‘wanton endangerment.’ What does that mean?
The grand jury indicted Brett Hankison for three counts of “wanton endangerment in the first degree,” a felony that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison for each count if he is found guilty.
Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky attorney general who will now oversee the prosecution of Mr. Hankison, said he 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.
Mr. Hankison is charged with one count for each of the apartment’s occupants: a pregnant woman, her husband and their 5-year-old child, who were asleep and who were not hit by the shots.
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.
Asked about the verdict, Trump says, ‘Nobody’s done more for the Black community.’
President Trump twice on Wednesday deflected reporters’ requests for a direct comment on the grand jury’s decision, and later tweeted his best wishes for the two police officers who were shot during a night of unrest in Louisville, Ky.
Mr. Trump tweeted: “Praying for the two police officers that were shot tonight in Louisville, Kentucky. The Federal Government stands behind you and is ready to help. Spoke to @GovAndyBeshear and we are prepared to work together, immediately upon request!”
When asked by reporters if he believed “justice was served in the Breonna Taylor case in Kentucky” and to deliver a “message to the Black community who believe that perhaps justice was not served by the decision,” the president took the opportunity to recite his record and to praise himself.
“Well, my message is that I love the Black community and I’ve done more for the Black community than any other president, and I say with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, and I mean that, with opportunity zones, and with criminal justice reform, with prison reform, with what we’ve done for historically Black universities, colleges, schools, what we’ve done. Abraham Lincoln, let’s give him the nod, but beyond that, nobody’s done more. I love the Black community,” the president said.
He added that he would have more to say at a news conference later.
When asked again at that meeting with reporters, the president quoted a statement by the attorney general of Kentucky, Daniel Cameron, whom the president described as “a star.”
“Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice; it just becomes revenge,” Mr. Trump said, quoting Mr. Cameron. “I heard that and said write that down for me,” the president added.” I thought it was a terrific statement.”
Modern America presidents have typically used moments of racial unrest to call for national unity and healing. Mr. Trump has been criticized by opponents for using recent events to stake out a political position or call for the use of federal agents and troops to crack down on protesters.
Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker, Malachy Browne, Rukmini Callimachi, Robert Chiarito, Shaila Dewan, John Eligon, Concepción de León, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Azi Paybarah, Dan Simmons, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Russell Goldman, Megan Specia, Mike Baker, Katie Gillespie, Deena Winter, Gillian R. Brassil, Sean Piccoli and Will Wright. Kitty Bennett contributed research.