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Hankison indicted on wanton endangerment in Breonna Taylor police shooting case

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(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — A Kentucky grand jury indicted one officer, Brett Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree in the shooting case of Breonna Taylor.

Louisville Metro Police Department officers Myles Cosgrove, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and former officer Brett Hankison are the three officers who fired into Taylor’s apartment. Officer Joshua Jaynes applied for the search warrant that led officers to Taylor’s residence on the fateful night of March 13. Cosgrove and Mattingly were not indicted.

The announcement was made being made more than six months after 26-year-old Taylor’s death prompted nationwide protests with demonstrators coast-to-coast repeating her name and celebrities and professional athletes wearing clothes bearing her likeness.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who was appointed as special prosecutor in the case by Gov. Andy Beshear, is expected to hold a news conference later Wednesday.

The grand jury’s announcement followed a $12 million settlement Taylor’s family reached last week with the City of Louisville in a wrongful-death lawsuit Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer filed in April.

Taylor’s family had called for criminal charges to be filed against the three officers involved in the shooting.

Palmer said at last week’s news conference that while “significant,” the settlement was “only the beginning of getting full justice for Breonna,” who was a certified emergency medical technician.

“We must not lose focus on what the real job is. And with that being said, it’s time to move forward with the criminal charges because she deserves that and much more,” Palmer said. “Her beautiful spirit and personality is working with all of us on the ground, so please continue to say her name.”

The settlement, which lawyers for the Taylor family say is the largest ever paid out for a Black woman killed in an alleged police misconduct case, also includes an agreement from the city to implement major reforms in the police department in hopes of preventing a similar tragedy from occurring.

The reforms include requiring the police department to overhaul how search warrants are obtained, and to create an Office of Inspector General to oversee an “early-warning system” that tracks use-of-force incidents and citizens’ complaints in an attempt to weed out bad officers.

Jaynes filed a request for a “no-knock” search warrant of Taylor’s home on March 12 after investigating the activities of Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, who police say was known to them as a drug trafficker, according to the warrant. Police alleged that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend was using her address to mail drugs through the post office.

The warrant required the police to verify with postal inspectors that the ex-boyfriend was receiving packages at Taylor’s address.

But lawyers for Taylor’s family allege the affidavit used to secure the warrant contained lies and that the Louisville Postal Inspector denied that his office inspected packages sent to Taylor’s home as part of a drug-trafficking investigation.

No drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment, officials said.

Prior to the grand jury’s announcement, many downtown Louisville business owners boarded up their windows and police beefed up their presence and in the area. Police Chief Robert J. Schroeder issued a state of emergency for his department on Monday canceling time off and vacations for officers in anticipation of an update on the state investigation.

Mayor Greg Fischer also signed two executive to prepare the city for Cameron’s announcement, including a state of emergency order due to the potential of civil unrest that allows him to impose a curfew, ban on-street parking in the downtown area and restrict access to five downtown parking garages. The order also allows him to hire or contract services to boost security in and round Jefferson Square Park in the downtown area.

“Our goal is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights after the announcement,” Fischer said in a statement. “At the same time, we are preparing for any eventuality to keep everyone safe.”

Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were sleeping inside their apartment when three white police officers attempted to execute a “no-knock” search warrant. The three plainclothes officers forced open Taylor’s front door and “blindly” fired into the apartment, according to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Palmer in April.

Taylor was shot eight times in the incident after Walker, using a licensed handgun, fired at what he says he thought were intruders, according to the lawsuit filed by Palmer.

The three officers fired more than 25 bullets into the apartment, some entering neighboring apartments, including one with a 5-year-old child, officials said.

Despite obtaining a “no-knock” warrant, the police officers claimed they knocked several times on Taylor’s door and announced themselves, then forced the door open and were met with gunfire. Walker said he called 911 before he used his licensed firearm to fire one shot, which police say struck one of the officers, Mattingly, in the leg.

In a civil suit, Walker’s attorneys allege that Mattingly may have been struck by friendly fire, not by a bullet from Walker’s gun.

Mattingly, Hankison, Cosgrove and Jaynes were placed on administrative reassignment pending the results of an investigation.

Hankison was later fired for his role in the incident. According to his termination letter that was shared with local reporters, Hankison violated police department procedure when he fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment while executing the warrant.

The investigation found that Hankison fired through a patio window that had the blinds drawn.

Cameron’s announcement came a day after a spokesman for the Louisville Metro Police Department told ABC News that the actions of a total of six officers involved in the Taylor case are being reviewed as part of an internal investigation.

The department’s Professional Standards Unit has begun its probe into Cosgrove and Mattingly, and Jaynes, as well as detectives Tony James, Michael Campbell and Michael Nobles, according to Sgt. Lamont Washington, a spokesperson for the agency.

On Monday night, Mattingly sent an email to his police department colleagues expressing support for them having to work in these difficult times.

“These next few days are going to be tough. They are going to be long, they are going to be frustrating. They will put a tremendous amount of stress on your families,” Mattingly wrote in the email obtained by ABC affiliate WHAS-TV in Louisvlle and confirmed to ABC News by Mattingly’s attorney, Kent Wicker.

He added, in part, that regardless the outcome of the grand jury hearing, “I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night.”

“It’s sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized. Put that aside for a while, keep your focus and do your jobs that you are trained and capable of doing. I’ll be praying for your safety,” Mattingly wrote. “Remember you are just a pawn in the Mayor’s political game. I’m proof they do not care about you or your family and you are replaceable.”

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