2 Louisville officers gunned down amid Breonna Taylor protests

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LOUISVILLE, KY. – Hours after a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville Police for the death of Breonna Taylor and protesters took to the streets, authorities said two police officers were shot and wounded Wednesday evening during the demonstrations expressing their anger at the murders of blacks at the hands of the police. Louisville Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said a suspect was in custody but did not provide details of that person’s participation in the protests. He says both officers are expected to recover and one is undergoing surgery.

He says the police were gunned down after investigating reports of gunfire at an intersection where there was a large crowd.

Several shots rang out as protesters in downtown Louisville attempted to avoid police checkpoints, moving down an alley as officers threw pepperballs, according to an Associated Press reporter. People covered their ears, ran away and frantically searched for places to hide. Police armed with long guns stormed the area, and then officers in riot gear and military-type vehicles blocked the roads.

The violence comes after prosecutors said two police officers who had fired their guns at Taylor, a black woman, were justified in using force to protect themselves after being confronted with gunfire from her boyfriend. The only charges were three counts of gratuitous endangerment against fired agent Brett Hankison for shooting at a house next to Taylor with people inside.

The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in connection with the raid on Taylor’s home on March 13.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family, denounced the decision as “scandalous and offensive”, and protesters shouted “No justice, no peace!” Immediately walked through the streets.

Scuffles broke out between police and protesters, and some were arrested. Officers fired flash bangs and a few small fires burned in a plaza that was at the center of the protests, but it had largely dissipated before a nighttime curfew as the protesters moved through other parts of downtown Louisville. Dozens of patrol cars blocked the city’s main thoroughfare.

Protesters also marched in cities like New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Taylor, an emergency medical worker, has been shot multiple times by white agents who entered her home during a narcotics investigation. State Attorney General Daniel Cameron said that while officers have a strike ban warrant, the investigation showed they announced themselves before entering. The warrant used to search his house was linked to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.

With the assassination of George Floyd in Minnesota, Taylor’s case has become a major touchstone for national protests that have drawn attention to entrenched racism and demanded police reform. Taylor’s image was painted in the streets, adorned with protest panels and screen-printed on t-shirts worn by celebrities. Several prominent African-American figures joined in urging the officers to be charged.

The announcement drew sadness, frustration and anger as the grand jury did not go further. Charges of gratuitous endangerment each carry a sentence of up to five years.

Morgan Julianna Lee, a high school student from Charlotte, North Carolina, watched the ad at her home.

“It’s almost like a slap in the face,” the 15-year-old said over the phone. “If I, as a black woman, ever need justice, I will never get it. ”

Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said he authorized a limited deployment of the National Guard. He also urged Cameron, the state attorney general, to post online any evidence that could be released without affecting the charges.

“Those who are currently feeling frustration, feel hurt, they deserve to know more,” he said.

The case exposed the wide divide between public opinion about justice for those who kill black Americans and the laws under which these officers are charged, which routinely favor the police and do not often result in harsh criminal charges. .

At a press conference, Cameron spoke of this disconnect: “The criminal law is not meant to answer every heartache and heartache. ”

“But my heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor. … My mother, if anything happened to me, would find it very hard, ”he added, choking.

But Cameron, who is the state’s first black attorney general, said officers acted in self-defense after Taylor’s boyfriend shot them. He added that Hankison and the two other officers who entered Taylor’s apartment announced themselves before entering – and therefore did not execute the warrant as “no hit”, according to the investigation. The city has since banned such warrants.

“Under Kentucky law, the use of force by (Officers Jonathan) Mattingly and (Myles) Cosgrove was justified for self-protection,” he said. “This rationale prevents us from pursuing criminal charges for the death of Miss Breonna Taylor. ”

Cameron said an FBI crime lab determined Cosgrove fired the bullet that killed Taylor.

Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker opened fire when the police broke in, hitting Mattingly. Walker told police he heard shots but didn’t know who was coming and fired in self-defense.

Cameron, who is a Republican, is a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and has been labeled by some as his alleged heir. He was also one of 20 names on President Donald Trump’s list to fill a future Supreme Court position.

At a press conference, Trump read a statement from Cameron, saying “justice is not often easy.” He later tweeted that he was “praying for the two policemen who were shot.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his vice president Kamala Harris are calling for police reform.

Biden says if a federal investigation continues, “we don’t need to wait for the final judgment of this investigation to do more to do justice to Breonna.” He said the country should start by tackling excessive force, outlawing strangulations and revising the strike ban warrants.

“We must never stop speaking Breonna’s name as we work to reform our justice system, including the review of the strike ban warrants,” Harris said on Twitter.

Hankison was fired on June 23. A termination letter sent by Acting Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said he violated due process by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he fired “deliberately and blind ”with his weapon.

Mattingly, Cosgrove, and the warrant-seeking detective Joshua Jaynes have been placed on administrative reassignment.

Last week, the city settled a lawsuit against the three agents brought by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, agreeing to pay her $ 12 million and enact police reforms.

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Lovan reported from Frankfort, Kentucky. Associated Press editors Claire Galofaro, Bruce Schreiner and Rebecca Reynolds Yonker in Louisville, Kentucky, Kevin Freking in Washington, Aaron Morrison in New York, and Haleluya Hadero in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, contributed.

Hudsbeth Blackburn is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on secret issues.

Correction:

This story has been updated to clarify that, according to the investigation, the officers did not execute the warrant as a restraining warrant, not that they did not use a restraining warrant. hit. It was also amended to clarify that the shots fired by Hankison entered another house with people inside, not multiple houses.

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