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Kentucky AG: Officers Who Shot Breonna Taylor Were ‘Justified’

Frankfort, KY – Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron faced reporters Wednesday afternoon from the state capital and explained the process that led the grand jury indictment of one Louisville officer who was involved in the Breonna Taylor case, but not for shooting Taylor.

A Jefferson County grand jury indicted former Louisville Metropolitan Police Department (LMPD) Officer Brett Hankison on Wednesday on three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into another apartment during the raid at Taylor’s.

Cameron said that apartment was occupied by three people, including a pregnant woman and a child.

The attorney general said that his team concluded the last interview of their investigation on Friday and began presenting evidence before the grand jury on Monday.

Prosecutors finished on Wednesday morning and a few hours later, the grand jury rendered its report to the judge.

Cameron told reporters that his office’s investigation had determined that, despite the fact the officers had a “no knock” warrant the night Taylor was shot, police announced themselves before they attempted to enter the resident.

He said that an independent civilian witness had confirmed having heard the officers announce themselves.

The attorney general said it was after that clear announcement that police busted through the door and saw a man and woman at the end of the hallway.

LMPD Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly was immediately shot, according to Cameron.

“Kenneth Walker fired the shot that hit Sgt. Mattingly,” the attorney general confirmed.

He debunked claims by Walker that Sgt. Mattingly was shot by a fellow officer during the chaos that ensued.

Cameron said Sgt. Mattingly was struck by a 9mm bullet from Walker’s weapon and officers had been carrying 40-caliber weapons.

He said that after Walker opened fire, “Mattingly fired six shots, and Cosgrove fired 16 shots simultaneously.”

The attorney general said Taylor was struck six times total, contradicting earlier reports that she had been shot five times.

Cameron explained that the sixth shot being counted in the state investigation was a fragment found in Taylor’s foot.

He said that none of Officer Hankison’s shots hit Taylor.

The attorney general explained that the Kentucky State Police crime lab had confirmed that LMPD Officer Myles Cosgrove had fired the fatal shot.

Then the state asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) crime lab to compare.

Cameron said the FBI lab analyzed the bullet and ruled it inconclusive as to who had fired the fatal shot.

Regardless, the attorney general said the ruling was clear – “Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after being fired on by Walker.”

Cameron explained that the grand jury voted to return an indictment against former Officer Hankison for wantonly placing the three people in Apartment 3 in danger, not for shooting Taylor.

He said that each of the three counts against the former law enforcement officer carried a maximum penalty of five years.

The attorney general said that homicide charges were not applicable in the case because the investigation “showed that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the return of deadly fire.”

He said he thought it was unlikely that there would be any other prosecutions related to the incident.

Cameron urged the community to ignore those who would try to incite unrest in Louisville in response to the grand jury’s decision.

“The truth is now before us, the facts have been examined, and a grand jury comprised of our peers and fellow citizens has rendered a decision,” the attorney general told reporters, putting a lid on the criminal case.

He said the FBI will continue to investigate potential civil rights violations.

Then Cameron pleaded with would-be rioters to accept the grand jury’s decision.

“Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge. And in our system, criminal justice isn’t the quest for revenge. It’s the quest for truth, evidence, and facts and the use of that truth as we fairly apply our laws,” the attorney general said.

Cameron urged the community to act on the facts they had just learned rather than their feelings.

“Our reaction to the truth today says what kind of society we want to be,” he continued. “Do we really want the truth or do we want a truth that fits our narrative? Do we want the facts or are we content to blindly accept our own version of events? We as a community must make this decision.”

He pointed out that what happened in Louisville wasn’t the same thing that had happened in officer-involved shootings in other cities and told protesters not to lump them all together.

“Each is unique and cannot be compared,” the attorney general said.

Cameron told the community to ignore celebrities and influencers who have never lived in Kentucky but “think that they know our community and the commonwealth better than we do.”

“I urge those protesting on the streets to remember this – peaceful protests are your right as an American citizen. Instigating violence and destruction are not,” he warned.

Cameron announced he was creating a task force by executive order to review the process for securing, reviewing, and executing warrants.

He promised a “top-to-bottom review” and said the goal would be to “establish best practices.”

The attorney general also called for support of the law enforcement community in Kentucky.

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Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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