Louisville, KY – A Jefferson County grand jury on Wednesday indicted one of the six Louisville Metropolitan Police Department (LMPD) officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor on three charges of wanton endangerment.
The charges were considerably less than what anti-police activists had hoped.
The grand jury presented its report to Jefferson County Circuit Judge Annie O’Connell on Sept. 23 in a virtual session and handed down three Class D felony charges against former LMPD Officer Brett Hankison for shooting into the occupied apartment next door to Taylor’s.
No indictments were brought down against any of the other five officers involved in the raid at Taylor’s home.
The grand jury recommended a $15,000 cash bond for former Officer Hankison.
The former police sergeant had already been terminated by the police department and the chief had previously said Officer Hankison had not followed department policy.
The grand jury found former Officer Hankison should be charged with wanton endangerment for firing bullets into Taylor’s apartment and another apartment unit.
The case was sent to a court in Division 13.
The city has been preparing for the announcement for a week.
A school nearby the Kentucky History Center, where Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron planned to make remarks after the charging decision was announced, closed early ahead of the press conference, WLEX reported.
Officials in Kentucky ordered the federal courthouse closed down and the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department (LMPD) declared a State of Emergency in anticipation of riots if the grand jury didn’t indict the three officers who were directly involved in the raid that led to death of Breonna Taylor in March.
Ahead of the announcement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced a curfew for Jefferson County starting at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, WHAS reported.
The curfew will be in effect from 9 p.m. until 6:30 a.m. for 72 hours and doesn’t apply to people going to work, seeking medical attention, or going to worship.
LMPD Interim Chief of Police Robert Schroeder said the National Guard has already been activated and numerous other law enforcement agencies will also be providing support in the county, WHAS reported.
Barricades have been placed around Jefferson Square Park and police have restricted access to other areas of downtown as well.
Chief Judge Greg Stivers signed an order on Sept. 18 that closed the Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse and Custom House from Sept. 21 through Sept. 25, according to Insider.
The General Services Administration (GSA) made the security request “in anticipation of an announcement.”
Federal Protective Services (FPS) Spokesman Rob Sperling said the extra security measures being taken shouldn’t be visible to the public, but by Monday morning, all the street level windows in the buildings – as well as those of many nearby businesses – had been boarded up with plywood, the Courier-Journal reported.
Sperling said that FPS, a brand of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, would be sending additional officers to assist.
“I can’t foretell the future, but we’re definitely not going to come in and be all kitted up in riot gear and propping up fences and shooting pepper balls in the air,” he said. “It’s to ensure the safety and security of federal property and personnel. That’s really it.”
LMPD Spokesman Sergeant Lamont Washington announced that all days off and vacation requests were cancelled for the police force in a press release on Monday afternoon, WRDB reported.
“The public may also see barriers being staged around downtown, which is another part of our preparations,” Sgt. Washington said.
Chief Schroeder put out a memo that explained his decision, WDRB reported.
“To ensure we have the appropriate level of staffing to provide for public safety services and our policing functions, effective immediately the LMPD will operate under the emergency staffing and reporting guidelines as outlined in the Standard Operating Procedures, Emergency Response Plan, and collective bargaining agreements until further notice,” Chief Schroeder said in the memo.
Last week, city officials have agreed to pay Taylor’s family $12 million and promised to institute police reforms in order to settle the wrongful death lawsuit against the city.
The settlement was the highest awarded in an officer-involved death in recent years.
Many called the settlement an attempt by city officials to quell the civil unrest that has plagued the city since Taylor was killed during the March 13 execution of a “no-knock” search warrant on her home by members of LMPD Criminal Interdiction Division.
The plan was to serve the search warrant at the same time other members of the Criminal Interdiction Division were serving an arrest warrant for Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, at his home on Elliott Avenue, 10 miles away, the Courier-Journal reported.
LMPD suspected Glover had been selling drugs out of his residence on Elliott Avenue but using Taylor’s address to receive mail, store drugs, or stash money he made selling drugs.
Leaked investigative documents revealed jailhouse phone conversations that proved Taylor was managing Glover’s money for him while he was incarcerated on drug charges.
LMPD Detective Joshua Jaynes said in an affidavit summarizing the investigation for the warrants that officers had seen Glover go into Taylor apartment in January and leave with a “suspected USPS package in his right hand.”
The affidavit said Glover went from Taylor’s apartment to a “known drug house” on Muhammad Ali Boulevard, the Courier-Journal reported.
Det. Jaynes said he was able to verify through the U.S. Postal Service that Glover had in fact been receiving packages at Taylor’s address.
“Affiant knows through training and experience that it is not uncommon for drug traffickers to receive mail packages at different locations to avoid detection from law enforcement,” he wrote in the affidavit, according to the Courier-Journal.
But officers reported seeing Taylor’s vehicle parked in front of Glover’s home on Elliott Avenue multiple times in 2020, and said that as of February, Glover was listing Taylor’s apartment as his “current home address,” the Courier-Journal reported.
LMPD Lieutenant Ted Eidem, the commander of the Public Integrity Unit, said three plainclothes detectives served the narcotics investigation’s “no-knock” search warrant at 12:40 a.m. on March 13.
A “no-knock” warrant means police are not required to wait before entering a property.
However, Lt. Eidem said the LMPD detectives who served the warrant at Taylor’s apartment knocked and announced themselves anyway.
“Officers knocked on the door several times and announced their presence as police who were there with a search warrant,” he told reporters at a press conference the afternoon of March 13. “The officers forced entry into the exterior door and were immediately met by gunfire. Sergeant [John] Mattingly sustained a gunshot wound and returned fire.”
Lt. Eidem said the other two detectives with Sgt. Mattingly also returned fire.
“The other officers were able to move Sgt. Mattingly and themselves to safety,” he explained. “The officers then gave verbal commands and the man later identified as Kenneth Walker exited the residence and surrendered to officers.”
Lt. Eidem said officers found Taylor unresponsive inside the apartment. She died from multiple gunshot wounds.
Records showed that police who served the arrest warrant on Glover at the Elliott Avenue address at about the same time recovered “several ounces of suspected crack cocaine, marijuana, and U.S. currency,” the Courier-Journal reported.
His attorney has said that he didn’t know the men entering the apartment were police officers when he shot at them.
Walker has filed a lawsuit against the police department claiming he was protected from prosecution under the state’s Stand Your Ground law.
The civil lawsuit filed by Walker asked the judge to give him immunity from prosecution for firing what he called a single “warning shot” after officer’s rammed Taylor’s door.
Walker’s “warning shot” prompted the officers on the other side of the door to return fire, and Taylor was shot five times, WAVE reported.
Police arrested Walker and charged him with the attempted murder of Louisville Metropolitan Police Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly.