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Protests erupt after grand jury does not charge Louisville officers in killing of Breonna Taylor

By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

The shooting of Breonna Taylor by Louisville, Kentucky, police in March could easily have slipped into obscurity - one more deadly encounter between law enforcement and a Black American.

Instead, her name and image became nationally known during a summer of protests against racial injustice and excessive use of force, triggered by the May 25 killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. In the streets and on social media, demonstrators, celebrities and politicians demanded that the officers who shot Taylor in her apartment while executing a search warrant face criminal charges.

On Wednesday, the decision by a Kentucky grand jury not to hold the officers legally responsible for Taylor's killing generated protests in cities across the country and raised the specter of more explosive demonstrations that could further inflame the nation's cultural wars ahead of the November presidential election.

"The rallying cries that have been echoing throughout the nation have once again been ignored," said a statement from Benjamin Crump, one of the attorneys who represents Taylor's family.

Crump called the grand jury decision to only bring three charges of wanton endangerment against an officer who shot into Taylor's neighbors' homes "outrageous and offensive" to her memory.

After the decision was announced, protests erupted in cities including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. In Louisville, demonstrators wept and chanted Taylor's name.

 

Authorities announced a curfew of 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear sent 500 National Guard troops to the city.

Tensions escalated when two police officers were shot near the protest site. Interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said both officers were in stable condition and a suspect was in custody, but did not give more details.

The officer who was charged by the grand jury, Brett Hankison, was fired from the Police Department on June 23. A termination letter from Schroeder accused Hankison of violating procedures by showing "extreme indifference to the value of human life" when he "wantonly and blindly" fired 10 shots.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said during a news conference Wednesday that the state found that the officers who entered Taylor's apartment - Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove - were justified in their actions March 13 because Taylor's boyfriend fired a gun at them first.

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