LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After months of demonstrating and demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, supporters are left grappling with the stinging aftermath of the investigation and a fractured relationship with law enforcement that, for some, may be damaged beyond repair.
“The community is hurting,” LeAndrea McCampbell, 31, told Yahoo News. “We feel like we’ve lost.”
McCampbell joined hundreds of protesters on Friday evening in Downtown Louisville, where angry and dejected supporters marched the streets crying out for justice for Taylor. It was the third day of demonstrations since a grand jury returned no indictments in the death of Taylor, a young Black woman who was shot and killed in March by police officers executing a warrant at her residence. Protests have been occurring across the country.
The news that no one would be charged directly with Taylor’s killing outraged supporters in Louisville and across the nation who’ve been calling for the three police officers involved to be arrested and charged in her death.
Only one officer, former Louisville Police Detective Brett Hankison, faces charges. He was indicted Wednesday on three counts of wanton endangerment for firing his handgun into nearby apartments on the night of the shooting, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced at a press conference.
The other two officers involved in the case, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not charged.
“I was honestly not surprised,” Bryson Townsend, 27, told Yahoo News. “I kind of knew what was going to happen — like, I’m a Black man living in America. It’s just the reality of the way things go. But [there] was a glimmer of hope, so I’m disappointed.”
State Rep. Charles Booker, who narrowly lost the Democratic primary to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was in Downtown Louisville for the protest and told Yahoo News that the Wednesday announcement felt like a second death.
“We’ve just gone through a period of grief all over again,” Booker said. “The announcement, in a lot of ways, was like her dying all over again. And so now this is a moment of what do we do next? How do we keep doing? I feel that need, that I feel that pain and we can get through this. We can get through this and we can build, we can fight for justice.”
Taylor, 26, died shortly after midnight March 13 after police arrived at her home while she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were sleeping. According to a statement from the city, officers executed a no-knock warrant at the home but knocked anyway and announced themselves before breaking down the door.
Walker said he heard a pounding at the door but didn’t hear police announce themselves, the city said. He fired his gun and hit Mattingly in the thigh, according to Cameron. The officers all returned fire.
Cameron said a ballistics analysis determined that Cosgrove fired the fatal shot. Hankison, who was fired in June, was criminally charged because he shot into two nearby apartments, allegedly endangering three individuals who were in one of the apartments.
Cosgrove and Mattingly were placed on administrative leave after the shooting. On Wednesday, Cameron said the two men were justified in the shooting because Walker fired first.
But the justification had little impact on protesters’ belief that the officers are responsible for Taylor’s death.
“I think it’s just horrible,” Leslie McBride, 62, told Yahoo News. “They should have charged all three. And not just with some Mickey Mouse wanton endangerment charge.”
At a press conference Friday morning, activist Tamika Mallory called for all three officers to be fired.
“They murdered Breonna Taylor,” she said. “And until those officers are fired from this department, I promise you, I promise you, we will continue to make these streets hot.”
Tensions flared between police and protesters at Friday’s demonstration, where one Black protester screamed at an officer in his vehicle as multiple police cars drove slowly behind protesters. “Do you know why we’re angry?” the protester asked. “Do you know what it’s like to be Black?”
For McCampbell, a mother of four, the shooting and the outcome reinforced a deep distrust of law enforcement.
“I don’t trust the police,” she said. “And that is a scary thing. If I can’t trust the people who are supposed to protect and serve me, then who can I trust?”
Mallory, who organized the protest Friday evening, told Yahoo News she has no faith in police or the criminal justice system.
“I’ve not had any real faith that law enforcement, or the criminal justice system, is going to operate in the way in which it should.”
Earlier Friday, attorneys for Taylor’s family and supporters called on Cameron to release the transcript of the grand jury proceedings — which are typically private — so that they can see what evidence was presented to the jury. Several protesters told Yahoo News they believe the public has a right to know who was on the jury and what information they were given.
“The community deserves to know exactly how he went through his process,” Booker said Friday. “What did he recommend? What are the reports in the transcripts that the grand jury was considering as they made their determination? Did he even step up to provide accountability for Breonna to begin with? Um, we’ve gone through too much, and this is too central to all of the work we have to do as a community for us to not understand what happened.”
Thumbnail credit: Darron Cummings/AP
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