Contrary to the headlines of big media on the left and right, no officers were charged in the shooting of Breonna Taylor. Misleading headlines imply that one officer, Brett Hankison, was charged in Breonna Taylor’s murder. Headlines such as “Breonna Taylor Live Updates: One Officer Charged in Shooting”, “Ex-officer Brett Hankison indicted in connection with Breonna Taylor’s death”, “Breonna Taylor shooting: Fired Louisville officer indicted on criminal charges but not her death”, “BREAKING: Louisville Police Officer Indicted In Breonna Taylor’s Case”, all imply that the charges against Brett Hankison are directly related to Breonna Taylor’s shooting.
After 7 months of protests and pleas from family and supporters of Breonna Taylor, a grand jury in Jefferson County, Kentucky failed to charge the officers involved in the shooting with her death. Officer Cosgrove, who fired the shot that killed Taylor, was not charged with murder.
“Our investigation found that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker.” Daniel Cameron, Kentucky AG
However, Brett Hankison–the third officer, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment of the first degree for firing shots without “line-of-sight.” The shots fired by Officer Hankison pierced the walls of a neighboring apartment. The wanton endangerment charges against Hankison were for endangering the lives of neighbors, not for Breonna Taylor’s death.
But the way the charges are being presented by the media is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. Proponents of criminal justice reform and most notably the NAACP, have released lengthy statements decrying the failure of the courts to bring murder charges against the officers.
“The justice system failed Breonna Taylor and, as such, failed us. From the officers’ ill-informed conduct to the city official’s delayed response, their actions have discredited their pledge and responsibility to the greater community. It is unacceptable that, once again, culpability has eluded those guilty of state-sanctioned murder.” NAACP
Protesters are up in arms following the verdict. In preparation for the possibility of violent protests, a state of emergency declaration has been issued for Jefferson County.
Also in his press conference following the verdict, Attorney General Cameron also said that it is unlikely that any additional charges will be brought against the officers.