The Jefferson County grand jury has reached a decision in the Breonna Taylor case, announcing three counts against one officer for wanton endangerment and disregard for human life by randomly shooting into an apartment and not against a specific target. Police officers are required to shoot at specific targets, not indiscriminately. The “wanton disregard” charge could result in a five-year prison sentence. It is considered a lesser offense than manslaughter, which could bring a lengthier sentence.
Taylor was killed on March 13 at age 26 after being shot by three Louisville Metro Police Department officers, only one of whom was charged today — the one who was initially fired for the killing. The cops forced entry into her apartment with a no-knock search warrant and Taylor was shot eight times in the midst of gunfire between the police and Taylor’s boyfriend. The police had a no-knock warrant because they believed Taylor’s apartment was housing drugs, but no drugs were ever found.
CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz announced that protestors gathering at the courthouse in Louisville, KY reacted with sadness, because a manslaughter charge was hoped for. “It’s unlikely these charges will be seen as sufficient by the protestors who’ve spent months calling for justice in the case,” Prokupecz said.
The Taylor family have called for peaceful protests, no matter what the grand jury was to decide.
Taylor’s death and calls to arrest the police officers responsible for it have remained a national talking point over the last several months. Actress Regina King accepted an Emmy Award over the weekend while wearing a shirt with Taylor’s face on it. Following the May 25 killing of George Floyd by police officers, demand for the arrest of her killers skyrocketed. The phrase “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” became a national Twitter topic on June 7, just two days after what would have been Taylor’s 27th birthday.
Hollywood names such as Jordan Peele, Ava DuVernay, Nia DaCosta, Olivia Wilde, Oprah Winfrey, Kumail Nanjiani, Seth Rogen, Sarah Paulson, and Yvette Nicole Brown have all rallied on social media to advocate for the arrest of Taylor’s killers. Actors Aunjanue Ellis, Milauna Jackson, Tanayi Seabrook, and Stephanie Lacey organized a rally in honor of Taylor on Friday, June 5 outside the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The event was also in support of Black Lives Matter. The hundreds of protestors in attendance sang a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” in honor of Taylor’s 27th birthday.
In the lead up to the verdict being announced, a statement of emergency went into effect in Louisville, Kentucky in anticipation of protests over the decision. The Guardian reports the Louisville police department has restricted vehicle traffic downtown “due to increased attention and activity in anticipation of an announcement” and to “ensure the area is as safe as possible for those coming downtown to express their first amendment rights.” A curfew for this evening has also been announced.
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