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Breonna Taylor decision: What is wanton endangerment?

Who’s ever heard of wanton endangerment? We break down exactly what it means.

Breonna Taylor and Detective Brett Hankison Facebook

On Wednesday (Sept. 23), the Jefferson County grand jury made the decision that Detective Brett Hankison would be charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, who was gunned down at night as she slept in her home back in March. The other two officers who faced charges; Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Detective Myles Cosgrove, walked away free of any indictments.

Since this news broke, many people across the internet — ourselves included — have been wondering exactly what wanton endangerment is. Many have never even heard of this term until today. So, REVOLT decided to break it down:

According to Legislature.Ky.gov, wanton endangerment is defined such:

A person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.

Wanton endangerment in the first degree is a Class D felony.

The legal source also claims that the law came into effect on January 1, 1975; though it was created in 1974.

The Ron Aslum Law Office also states that someone is usually charged with wanton endangerment after doing one of these following three actions:

A) Pointing a gun at someone — which is the most common act for this charge.

B) Firing a weapon at someone or in their direction — which Hankison did in Taylor’s deadly incident.

C) Driving while under the influence.

Moreover, there are two types of wanton endangerment: First-Degree and Second-Degree, the legal outlet states. Take a look at those differences below:

First-Degree Wanton Endangerment: “A person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.” First-degree wanton endangerment is a Class D felony, punishable with fines of up to $10,000 and up to five years in prison.

Second-Degree Wanton Endangerment: “A person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the second degree when he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of physical injury to another person.” Second-degree wanton endangerment is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable with fines of up to $500 and up to 12 months in county jail.

Hankison was charged with wanton endangerment in the first-degree. If convicted, a person with this type of charge can be sentenced to between one and five years in a Kentucky state prison. Since Hankison is facing three counts, he’s looking at up to 15 years total behind bars if he’s found guilty of each.

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