Politics

Grand jury indicts former Louisville cop Brett Hankison in Breonna Taylor raid, but no charges related to her shooting death

Key Points
  • A grand jury indicted a former Louisville, Kentucky, cop, Sgt. Brett Hankison, on wanton endangerment charges connected to the police raid that led to the killing of Breonna Taylor — but he was not charged with any crimes related to her death.
  • Other police officers involved in the raid on Taylor's home were not criminally charged by the grand jury. 
  • Taylor's death, along with the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last spring, catalyzed the protest-driven movement to reform police organizations nationwide.
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A grand jury on Wednesday indicted a former Louisville, Kentucky, cop, Sgt. Brett Hankison, on wanton endangerment charges connected to the police raid that led to the killing of Breonna Taylor — but he was not charged with any crimes related to her death.

Hankison, who fired 10 shots during the raid only was charged for having fired shots that ended up in a neighboring apartment to Taylor's home, not into her residence itself.

Two other cops involved in the raid on Taylor's home, Officer Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, were not criminally charged by the grand jury. 

An attorney for the Black woman's family, Ben Crump, condemned the lack of criminal charges related to Taylor's death.

"Jefferson County Grand Jury indicts former ofc. Brett Hankison with 3 counts of Wanton Endangerment in 1st Degree for bullets that went into other apartments but NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor. This is outrageous and offensive!" Crump tweeted.

Former Louisville Metropolitan Police Department officer Brett Hankison poses for an official portrait in Louisville, Kentucky, in an undated photograph.
LMPD | via Reuters

"If Brett Hankison's behavior was wanton endangerment to people in neighboring apartments, then it should have been wanton endangerment in Breonna Taylor's apartment too. In fact, it should have been ruled wanton murder!" Crump added.

Judge Annie O'Connell said a warrant will be issued for Hankison's arrest. She set bail at $15,000.

The death of the 26-year-old Taylor, who was hit by six shots, along with the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last spring, catalyzed the protest-driven movement to reform police organizations that spread nationwide this summer.

Wanton endangerment in the first degree is a Class D felony that carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison.

Hankison was charged with three counts of that crime. The multiple counts relate to the fact that the shots he fired went into an apartment, not Taylor's, which contained three other people.

A lawyer for the former police officer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Louisville Police Department in June terminated Hankison's employment, saying he had displayed "an extreme indifference to the value of human life."

In anticipation of the grand jury's findings, Louisville's mayor, Greg Fischer, imposed a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. starting Wednesday.

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Taylor, who was an emergency medical worker, was at home with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, on the evening of March 13 when Louisville cops raided the residence and fired multiple shots.

Police were executing a search warrant for drugs or money related to an investigation involving Taylor's former boyfriend.

Cops said they fired shots after they were shot at as they went into the house. Taylor's relatives said Walker fired to defend himself because he believed someone was breaking into the house.

The two other cops who participated in the raid, Cosgrove and Mattingly, were placed on administrative leave.

So was the detective who had requested the warrant, Joshua Jaynes.

The city of Louisville last week agreed to pay $12 million to Taylor's family to settle a wrongful death lawsuit. The city did not admit any wrongdoing as part of that agreement.

Correction: The headline on an earlier version incorrectly said the charges were related to Breonna Taylor's death.