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Ex-Louisville Police Officer Indicted In Breonna Taylor Shooting

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

In Louisville, Ky., today, a grand jury indicted one former police officer related to the Breonna Taylor case. This comes more than six months after Taylor was killed in her home. The charge is first degree wanton endangerment for putting her neighbors in danger. But none of the police officers were charged in her death, and that has angered the Taylor family's attorneys, as well as activists and protesters. Amina Elahi of member station WFPL in Louisville joins us now.

Welcome.

AMINA ELAHI, BYLINE: Thank you.

PFEIFFER: Amina, how was this indicted officer involved that night? And how did Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron respond?

ELAHI: The officer who was indicted, former Detective Brett Hankison, he was found to have fired his weapon through a covered window. And, in fact, he was fired in June for engaging in the incident in that way. He was, as you said, charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree. In Kentucky, that's a felony that can carry a sentence of five years per count. And the grand jury's report indicated he was being charged for endangering Breonna Taylor's neighbors when bullets went through their apartment - her apartment and into theirs.

Kentucky's Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he was fully prepared to prosecute Hankison, who will now be tried to determine guilt. And Cameron also said that the other two officers who fired their weapons that night, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, who are currently on paid leave, were justified in doing so because they were shot at first by Breonna Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Here's what Cameron said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANIEL CAMERON: According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves. This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Ms. Breonna Taylor's death.

ELAHI: Cameron also said he does not anticipate pursuing additional charges related to the shooting.

PFEIFFER: Did you learn any new details from the attorney general today?

ELAHI: Yes. Much of the new information came from ballistics reports conducted by the FBI and Kentucky State Police. Attorney General Cameron said they concluded that of the five bullets that struck Breonna Taylor, it was Detective Myles Cosgrove who fired the fatal shot. And Attorney General Cameron also said the ballistics report confirmed that the bullet that struck Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly came from Breonna Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker. Walker said he fired at officers who were breaking down her door around 1 a.m. because he couldn't hear them announcing themselves and thought they were intruders. So it was that single shot that prompted three officers to fire back.

PFEIFFER: And that question about whether they announced themselves has been really key. What did Cameron say about that?

ELAHI: Well, what's important to know about this is that the officers had a no-knock warrant that police had asked for as part of a larger narcotics investigation that focused on an ex-boyfriend of Breonna Taylor's. That person had been taken into custody the night that police broke into Taylor's apartment. And what Cameron said about this was that they interviewed one of Breonna Taylor's neighbors, who corroborated the police's claim that they said who they were before breaking down her door.

Now, there's no body camera footage of the incident because plainclothes officers who were serving the warrant that night weren't required to wear body cameras at the time. And so while one neighbor said he heard the police announce themselves, other in the apartment complex said they heard no such thing. And that's important because Kenneth Walker fired first and later said he didn't know they were police.

PFEIFFER: And as we heard, this limited indictment today is not what Breonna Taylor's family had hoped for. And protests have happened as a result. That's Amina Elahi of member station WFPL in Louisville.

Thank you.

ELAHI: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.