OUISVILLE , KY, September 23, 2020 – Earlier today a Jefferson County grand jury declined to bring any charges against three white police officers for the deadly shooting of Breonna Taylor, a Black 26-year-old emergency medical technician. One police officer, former detective Brett Hankison, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment while the other two police officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove, will not face any criminal charges.
The three charges against Hankison do not appear to be related to Taylor’s death as the indictment said he “wantonly shot a gun” into three apartments but none of the apartments were Taylor’s.
Earlier this month the City of Louisville settled a $12 million wrongful death claim with Taylor’s family. The settlement included multiple police reforms.
The following is a statement from Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The killing of Breonna Taylor was an unwarranted act of police violence that shocked and horrified millions of Americans. And yet it’s unfathomable to see that the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office could not find that the three officers involved in her murder did anything wrong.
Breonna Taylor was in her own home asleep when police shot and killed her. If we can’t find wrongdoing in that, then our criminal justice system is irretrievably broken. The City of Louisville saw fit to award Taylor’s family $12 million dollars because it recognized the injustice of what happened, but prosecutors haven’t brought any charges against the police officers responsible for her murder.
Breonna’s death, along with the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dion Johnson, among many others, has galvanized a movement for Black lives that has flourished across the country, rooted in longstanding demands for real change of a criminal legal system built on anti-Black racism and white supremacy. Congress, state legislatures and local governments must heed the call and act now to end police violence. We need to do more than condemn the violence; we need the killing to stop and to hold accountable those responsible for her killing.
Today, as we continue to mourn the loss of Breonna Taylor, we extend our deepest condolences to her family and the community for the retraumatization this miscarriage of justice causes. Breonna and her family deserve better. We need accountability now.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. For more information, visit www.splcenter.org.