Two police officers were shot during demonstrations in Louisville, Kentucky on Wednesday night.
The protests followed the grand jury’s decision to not charge any officers with the killing of Breonna Taylor. Although the grand jury did indict former detective Brett Hankinson on three counts of “wanton endangerment,” demonstrators and activists immediately criticized the decision as insufficient.
On the night of her murder, Hankinson fired into the sliding glass patio door and window of Breonna Taylor’s apartment building. Both the door and the window were covered in blinds, which led Hankinson to fire his weapon without a line of sight (a violation of department policy). The bullets shattered a glass door in the neighboring apartment, but they did not harm a pregnant woman, her husband, or their five-year-old child.
According to Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s attorney general, three officers fired a total of 32 shots on the night of March 13. Taylor’s boyfriend initially mistook the police for intruders after they barged into his home under a “no-knock warrant,” thereby leading him to make the first shot. Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend struck an officer in the leg, severing his femoral artery.
However, rounds fired by Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove struck Breonna Taylor. Hankinson fired 10 rounds, but none of them hit Taylor. Despite evidence via FBI ballistics analysis that Cosgrove fired the shot that killed the 26-year-old Black emergency room technician and aspiring nurse, neither of the officers who fired at Taylor were arrested.
John W. Steward, a former assistant attorney general in Kentucky, says it was unlikely for Mattingly and Cosgrove to be indicted given that Kentucky allows citizens to use lethal force in self-defense. Thus, he believes that Mattingly and Cosgrove were protected by the law. The loophole that allowed only Hankinson to be indicted was that his actions showed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life” rather than a valid self-defense.
The shooting that occurred Wednesday night came after a group of protestors began cutting through parking lots to evade any police officers that were blocking their path. Louisville police enforced a 9 p.m. curfew, but the gunshots rang out just before the curfew began. After hearing the shots, protestors split and ran through nearby yards. At least one protestor was struck in the neck by a projectile.
Both police officers experienced non-life-threatening wounds and one of the officers was in surgery late on Wednesday night. Interim Louisville Metro Police Department chief Robert Schroeder said that a suspect was taken into custody around 10:15 p.m. By 11:30 p.m., police arrested a total of more than 46 protestors.