By: Dalila Hashish, News Editor, The Pawprint
Breonna Taylor, a 26 year old EMT, was shot at least 5 times in her home by police in a mistaken drug raid on March 13 2020. Since her death, her name has been eminent in Black Lives Matter protests all over the US, and was brought back in full force after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May this year.
Three plain closed officers entered Breonna’s flat, where she lived with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, with a no-knock warrant. Later, it came to light that the “no-knock” warrant had been changed to a “knock and announce” warrant, which the officers insist they did, but Walker denies hearing anything.
They were investigating two men that they believed were dealing drugs in another part of town but using Breonna’s flat as a place to receive them. Breonna had an on-and-off relationship with one of the suspects under investigation, but had ended all contact by the time of the raid.
The officers shot into her apartment just after midnight while her and her current boyfriend were sleeping, waking them by firing shots through a sliding glass patio door, which was covered with a blind. This action directly defies the rule that officers must always have a direct line of sight while shooting. Both her and her boyfriend got out of bed and walked towards the door, asking who it was. Walker grabbed a gun, thinking it may have been Breonna’s ex-boyfriend, and when the police broke down the door, he fired the gun once, catching Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the leg.
In a later statement, Mattingly, said he fired off at least six rounds after he was shot. Detective Brett Hankison, now let go from the force, blindly shot 10 rounds into the apartment. When ambulances were called, paramedics treated only the injured officer, with Taylor being left unattended for over 20 minutes.
Out of the three officers involved in the shooting, two have not been charged, and Brett Hankinson has been charged, but it’s not what many people expected. Instead of being charged with her death, he was charged with “wanton endangerment” for the bullets he fired into the neighbour’s wall.
Taylor’s relatives have called for the officers to be charged with either murder or manslaughter, but the Grand Jury declined after reviewing the evidence.
Many celebrities are also speaking out on the issue, with #SayHerName trending on Twitter. Brett Erlich, an American comedian, tweeted “They charged the one cop whose shots missed Breonna the most”. Kanye West has also offered to pay Taylor’s family’s legal fees, and Cardi B shared a post on Breonna’s 27th birthday reminding fans that “The fight ain’t over till you get justice”.
After the Grand Jury’s final decision not to charge the officers for Taylor’s death, Louisville erupted in protests, and resulted with two officers being shot, and a state of emergency being declared. The two officers suffered non-life-threatening wounds, with one of them currently recovering from surgery. The state of emergency also included a three day county-wide curfew, between the hours of 9pm to 6:30am. However, it was promptly ignored, and protesters still filled the streets. Dozens were arrested, including Kentucky’s only Black woman legislator.
Taylor’s family’s attorney, Ben Crump, called the decision “outrageous and offensive”, adding, “If Hankison’s behavior constituted wanton endangerment of the people in the apartments next to hers, then it should also be considered wanton endangerment of Breonna. In fact, it should have been ruled wanton murder”.
In the most recent news, Detective Myles Cosgrove, the officer that fired the shot that killed Breonna, has started crowdfunding on the “Christian crowdfunding site” GiveSendGo in order to pay off the rest of his service hours and retire. His lawyer has confirmed that the fund was set up by members of Cosgrove’s family, but has declined to give any further comments. Out of a $75,000 goal, $9,000 have already been raised.