On Wednesday (Sept. 23), Brett Hankison, formerly of the Louisville Metro Police Department, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor. The two other police officers who fired weapons at Taylor’s home — Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove — were not charged by the grand jury.
Following the news, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who acted as a special prosecutor on the case, held a press conference to further elaborate on the grand jury’s findings.
During the briefing, Cameron said that his investigation and the jury found that Mattingly and Cosgrove were both justified in their use of force, as Mattingly had been previously fired upon by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. In a lawsuit, Walker said he fired a warning shot at the officers because he believed them to be intruders. Cameron explained that Kentucky self-defense law protects Mattingly and Cosgrove from criminal charges.
Mattingly, Cameron said, was the first to fire back and was also the officer who was shot in the leg by Walker. He fired six times at Walker and Taylor and Cosgrove fired an additional 16 shots. Hankison fired his weapon as well, but it’s unknown if any of his bullets hit Taylor. Hankison was previously fired from the police department for “blindly” firing rounds at Taylor’s apartment. Cameron’s investigation concluded that Cosgrove fired the fatal shot and that Taylor was hit with six projectiles.
Cameron also said that his investigation found that the officers knocked and announced themselves before barging into Taylor’s home. Officers’ statements about knocking, he said, were corroborated by a witness who was in close proximity to the apartment. The question of whether or not officers announced themselves has been hotly debated since the March raid, with Walker and several neighbors saying they did not. According to Cameron, one nearby civilian agreed with officers’ claims that they did.
With the nature of the officers’ raid under heavy public scrutiny, Cameron said that he is launching a task force to review search warrants, which will call upon Kentucky citizens, law enforcement officials, judiciary representatives and more. The task force will review the search warrant process and execution to see if there are changes that need to be made.
Cameron offered his public condolences to Taylor’s family and said he told her mother, Tamika Palmer, the jury’s decision prior to the announcement.
“Every day this family wakes up to the realization that someone they love is no longer with them,” he said. “There is nothing I can offer them today that will take away the grief and heartache this family is experiencing.”