(WTNH) — Wednesday, a grand jury indicted just one of the three officers involved in the fatal March shooting of Breonna Taylor, and murder was not one of the charges. A local lawyer joins News 8 to break down the charges.
The big question is ‘why weren’t the other two officers talked about in Wednesday’s case?’
The grand jury in the case of the Kentucky EMT has charged former officer Brett Hankinson with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree, but those counts are not related to the shooting death of Breonna Taylor herself.
Criminal defense attorney Tara Knight explains:
“Probably what the grand jury focused on was the fact that when the officers entered the apartment they were shot at first, so perhaps the grand jury said – and again I’m speculating – that that gave the officers permission to return fire. However, that went off so that was outside of the apartment was not in the entryway and when he heard the shots he fired blindly and randomly.”
The grand jury said Hankison acted with “extreme indifference to the value of human life,” accidentally firing shots into a neighboring apartment that was occupied by a couple and their child.
Taylor was shot and killed when police executed a search warrant.
Officers were investigating a suspected drug operation linked to Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. No drugs were found in the search.
From a defense attorney’s perspective, Knight says no-knock warrants are very problematic and can lead to violence as with this case.
“The rationale from police is that they want to take the occupants by surprise so that evidence is not destroyed, but in terms of violence it is a recipe for disaster when you’re at home and someone is battering down your doorway and you’re not aware of why and who is doing it. And this is the case that shows that things can happen.”
The other two officers – Myles Cosgrove and Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly – are accused of shooting into Taylor’s apartment back in March in the middle of the night.
But there was no mention of the two officers in Wednesday’s hearing.
Knight says both Cosgrove and Mattingly can still face charges in the future.
“They’re not completely out of the woods because the federal authorities could step in and indict the officers for violation of Breonna Taylor’s civil rights and that happens often. We have a dual system of government and when the state court fails to indict, sometimes the federal authorities pick it up.”
If Hankison is found guilty he can face up to five years in prison for each count.