Global Affairs

The decision on Breonna Taylor’s case sparks national outrage

On the 13th of March 2020, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed during a failed no-knock raid by Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers Myles Cosgrove, Brett Hankison, and Jonathan Mattingly. On the 23rd of September, over half a year later, a charge was finally made. The indictment has nothing to do with Taylor’s death.

In his presentation of the grand jury decision, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron recounted the details on the day of Taylor’s death and summarised the legal proceedings that followed over the past several months. According to Attorney General Cameron, Brett Hankison, who was fired on the 23rd of June, has been charged with “three counts of wanton endangerment”. The jury ruled that Hankison “wantonly [placed] the three individuals” living in the apartment next to Taylor and her boyfriend, in danger when shots also entered their home. The other two officers involved were not charged, and it was reiterated that an investigation into Taylor’s death found “that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon” by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.

This news follows a settlement made on the 15th of September, which saw the City of Louisville agree to pay Taylor’s family $12 million and ban no-knock search warrants among its reforms to police practices. 

Ahead of the Kentucky attorney general’s announcement, a state of emergency was declared in Louisville on Tuesday as the city braced itself for “civil unrest”. Following the announcement, protests surged across the US with those in Louisville resulting in the non-fatal shooting of two officers. In their wake, the Louiseville protests saw 46 individuals arrested and several high-profile politicians, including presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump, condemn the violence carried out against the police force. 

The lack of immediate justice for Taylor’s death brought on 100 consecutive days of demonstrations in her city. Many have condemned the Louiseville police department for its violent actions towards protestors, with the Kentucky National Guard deployment in June resulting in the death of a black restaurant owner, David McAtee.

According to CNN and the Taylor family’s attorney Sam Aguiar, the decision concerning the fate of the officers involved was only disclosed to Taylor’s mother two minutes before the decision was broadcasted, breaching their expectation to hear of the news well in advance of the public.  

Yesterday marked a sombre moment for those demanding justice for Breonna Taylor and other Black victims of police brutality. A federal investigation into the violation of Taylor’s civil rights is still underway.

Kanengo Diallo

Kanengo Diallo is the Senior Global Affairs & Outreach Editor at The Oxford Blue. She's a second-year student studying English Language & Literature at St Hugh's College. Outside of her studies, she has a keen interest in development journalism and exploring heritage in postcolonial societies. She enjoys writing about the intersections of race and culture in socio-political phenomena.