2 Louisville officers shot amid Breonna Taylor protests
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Hours after a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for Breonna Taylor’s death and protesters took to the streets, authorities said two officers were shot and wounded Wednesday night during the demonstrations expressing anger over the killings of black people at the hands of police.
Interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said a suspect was in custody but did not offer details about whether that person was participating in the demonstrations. He says both officers are expected to recover, and one is undergoing surgery.
He says the officers were shot after investigating reports of gunfire at an intersection where there was a large crowd.
Several shots rang out as protesters in downtown Louisville tried to avoid police blockades, moving down an alleyway as officers lobbed pepper balls, according to an Associated Press journalist. People covered their ears, ran away and frantically looked for places to hide. Police with long guns swarmed the area, then officers in riot gear and military-style vehicles blocked off roadways.
The violence comes after prosecutors said two officers who fired their weapons at Taylor, a black woman, were justified in using force to protect themselves after they faced gunfire from her boyfriend. The only charges were three counts of wanton endangerment against fired Officer Brett Hankison for shooting into a home next to Taylor’s with people inside.
“Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” became a rallying cry this summer, emblazoned on T-shirts worn by celebrities and sports stars while protesters filled the streets demanding police accountability. In the end, none of the officers were charged with Taylor’s killing, although one was indicted for shooting into a neighboring home that had people inside.
The outcome demonstrates the vast disconnect between widespread public expectation of justice and the limits of the law when police use deadly force.
“Criminal law is not meant to respond to every sorrow and grief,” Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the first African American elected to the job in Kentucky, told reporters after the grand jury announced its decision on Wednesday. “And that is, that is true here. But my heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old Louisville emergency medical worker studying to become a nurse, was shot several times in her hallway after three plainclothes narcotics detectives busted down the door of her apartment after midnight on March 13. The officers entered the home as part of an investigation into a suspect who lived across town. No drugs were found at Taylor’s home.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was with her at the apartment and fired a shot at Louisville police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly after the door was broken down. Walker has said he fired because he feared he was being robbed or that it might be an ex-boyfriend of Taylor’s trying to get in. Mattingly was struck in the leg and returned fire, along with other officers who were outside the apartment.