Louisville officer calls for peace after being shot during protests

(Reuters) – One of the Louisville, Kentucky, police officers who was shot last week during protests following the grand jury’s decision in the Breonna Taylor case on Wednesday called for a de-escalation of tensions between demonstrators and police.

“Hate and violence progresses nothing. It’s only when we can come together in mutual respect and love that we can communicate in an effective way and we can make real change,” Major Aubrey Gregory told a briefing on Wednesday.

Gregory and Officer Robinson Desroches were shot last Wednesday amid protests that erupted following news that a grand jury would not bring murder charges against three police officers involved in the March 13 killing of Taylor during a botched raid at her home.

Larynzo Johnson, 26, is the only suspect in the shootings of the two police officers last week. He was charged with two counts of assault and multiple counts of wanton endangerment. He pleaded not guilty.

Gregory’s calls for calm come as pressure builds on Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, over his handling of the case. Cameron, who presented evidence to the grand jury, said in a Louisville television interview that he did not recommend any charges against the two police officers who shot Taylor, saying the jurors needed to make that decision on their own.

A recording of the grand jury proceedings was scheduled to be made public on Wednesday, but Cameron asked a Jefferson County Circuit Court judge for another week to redact private information, according to a court filing released on Wednesday.

Gregory, who said he had been playing a leading role working with protest organizers to keep demonstrations peaceful, added he was concerned about violence.

“The willingness to profess openly in public the desire to harm, kill, hurt the police and their families has really ratcheted up,” he said.

“We support the demonstrations we do not support violence in any shape, form or fashion,” said Raoul Cunningham, president of the Louisville chapter of the NAACP on Wednesday.

“We hope that the situation here will come to a peaceful conclusion. And we also hope that justice will come regarding the murder of Breonna Taylor.”

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

Kentucky AG says he did not recommend charges against two Breonna Taylor officers

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – Kentucky’s attorney general, who presented evidence to a grand jury in the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor, did not recommend any charges against the two police officers who shot her, saying the grand jury needed to make that decision on its own.

The revelation, in a Louisville television interview, pre-empted one of the main points of interest that was set to be unveiled on Wednesday when a recording of the 20-plus hours of proceedings was due to be made public.

However, a judge agreed to delay the release of the recording, giving the state until midday Friday to redact witnesses’ names, the attorney general’s office said on Wednesday afternoon.

Under public pressure to show the evidence he presented in a case that has captured national attention and prompted protests, Attorney General Daniel Cameron told WDRB television in an interview on Tuesday that he recommended only one charge against the three officers who opened fired. The grand jury took his guidance and indicted one officer for endangerment last week.

“They (the grand jury) are an independent body. If they wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could have done that. But our recommendation was that (Jonathan) Mattingly and (Myles) Cosgrove were justified in their acts and their conduct,” Cameron said.

The case of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, has revived street protests across the United States against racism and police brutality, further polarizing the country as some voters are already casting early ballots in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The shooting took place while police were executing a search warrant in a drug investigation involving Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. When the officers burst into her home in the early morning hours of March 13, Taylor’s current boyfriend fired once, wounding one officer. Three officers responded with 32 rounds, six of which hit Taylor.

The grand jury decided against indicting either Mattingly or Cosgrove, who were placed on administrative leave. Instead it indicted a third white officer, Brett Hankison, for wanton endangerment for stray bullets that hit a neighboring apartment. Hankison was fired in June.

Cameron has said the shooting was justified as self-defense since Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired first at the officers. Walker has said he believed the officers who entered the home with a “no-knock” warrant were criminal intruders, and an attempted murder charge against him was dropped in May.

Critics of Cameron, including civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Taylor family, have been questioning the presentation to the grand jury, suggesting that Cameron, a Black Republican, was protecting the officers. Crump helped the family win a $12 million wrongful death settlement against the city of Louisville.

Cameron previously said he presented the grand jury with “all the evidence” and walked the panel through six possible homicide offenses under Kentucky law.

But prosecutors have wide leeway in how to present evidence to a grand jury, which then decides whether to bring charges. Nine of the 12 grand jurors must agree on a charge in order to return an indictment.

Cameron told WDRB, a Fox-affiliated channel in Louisville, he only recommended the one charge that was brought.

“Ultimately our judgment is that the charge that we could prove at trial beyond a reasonable doubt was for wanton endangerment against Mr. Hankison,” Cameron said.

The case has put the spotlight on Cameron, a potential rising star in a Republican Party that greatly lags Democrats with the Black vote.

Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes have called for the prosecution of the officers and celebrated Taylor, an emergency medical technician, under the slogan “Say her name!”

Cameron told WDRB he felt free to speak more openly now that a recording of grand jury proceedings would be made public. Cameron previously resisted releasing the grand jury evidence, saying it should remain secret as is normal practice.

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Ann Bailey Smith had ordered that a recording of the 2-1/2 days of proceedings be filed with the court on Wednesday as part of Hankison’s case.

But Cameron asked the judge for another week, saying the state needed time to redact the names of witnesses and private citizens identified in the recordings. Instead, the judge extended the deadline two days until midday Friday, according to Hankison’s defense lawyer, Stew Mathews, and a statement from the attorney general’s office.

Grand jury evidence is rarely made public, and Kentucky usually only shares it with the lawyers in a criminal case when the defendant has the right to see it. “In Kentucky it is made available to the defendant. In the interest of transparency, the judge has decided that it should be made public,” Mathews said.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Chizu Nomiyama, Steve Orlofsky and Aurora Ellis)

Louisville anti-racism protests resume amid tensions over Breonna Taylor ruling

By Carlos Barria and Bryan Woolston

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) – A second night of anti-racism protests got off to a tense but mostly peaceful start in Louisville, Kentucky, on Thursday, a day after a grand jury decided not to bring homicide charges against police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

As a curfew went into effect after dark and police declared an unlawful assembly, a group of 200 to 300 protesters who had marched through the city for hours retreated to the grounds of the First Unitarian Church, set aside by organizers as a sanctuary near the Ohio River waterfront.

Some of the marchers had smashed windows of several local businesses, and even a hospital, along the way, according to a Reuters journalist. But the scene outside the church contrasted sharply with violence that flared the previous night in Kentucky’s largest city.

“At least 24 people were arrested throughout the evening for charges including unlawful assembly, failure to disperse and riot in the first degree,” the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) said in a statement.

Angry demonstrations and sporadic clashes between police and protesters in the hours following the grand jury announcement turned bloody late on Wednesday when two police officers on crowd-control duty were shot and wounded.

A suspect was arrested a short time later, and Louisville police chief Robert Schroeder said on Thursday that the two wounded officers were expected to recover.

Schroeder, his department reinforced by state police and Kentucky National Guard troops, said he expected protests to continue for days, and a nighttime curfew was extended through the weekend.

“For all of us it is a very tense and emotional time,” Schroeder told a news conference on Thursday. Police said 127 arrests were made in the first night of protests, most for curfew violations or disobeying orders to disperse.

The protests began on Wednesday after the grand jury decided that none of the three white officers who collectively fired 32 gunshots as they stormed Breonna Taylor’s apartment would be charged with causing her death.

One of the officers was indicted on charges of endangering Taylor’s neighbors with several stray bullets he fired into an adjacent apartment during the March 13 raid, carried out as part of a narcotics investigation. The other two officers were not charged at all.

Taylor, 26, a Black emergency medical technician and aspiring nurse, was struck by six bullets moments after she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were roused from bed in the commotion of the raid. Walker exchanged gunfire with the police.

GRAND JURY RULING DECRIED

The grand jury decision, announced by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, was immediately denounced by civil rights advocates as the latest miscarriage of justice in a U.S. law enforcement system corrupted by racial inequity.

Cameron said there was “no conclusive” evidence that any of the 10 shots fired by former Detective Brett Hankison, the officer indicted on wanton endangerment charges, ever struck Taylor.

His two colleagues, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, used justified force under Kentucky law because they were returning fire – a combined total of 22 rounds – after Walker shot at them first, wounding Mattingly in the thigh, according to Cameron.

Walker has said he fired a warning shot because he feared a criminal intrusion and did not hear police identify themselves.

Wednesday’s protests turned violent around nightfall as police in riot gear ordered demonstrators to clear the streets after several fires were set in trash cans near a downtown park and outside the city’s Hall of Justice.

A Reuters journalist heard several gunshots ring out, and members of the crowd scurried for cover. An arrest report said the accused gunman, Larynzo Johnson, 26, was seen on video opening fire on police with a handgun.

Johnson was charged with two counts of assault in the first degree and 14 counts of wanton endangerment. His first court hearing was set for Friday.

Police said several businesses were vandalized or looted during the night, but the demonstrations were otherwise mostly peaceful.

Protests also flared on Wednesday in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, Oakland, Philadelphia, Denver and Portland, Oregon, Seattle and Buffalo, New York.

Taylor’s slaying initially drew little national attention. But it was thrust into prominence after George Floyd, a Black man arrested for a non-violent offense in Minneapolis, died under the knee of a white police officer on May 25, igniting a summer of protests against racial injustice and excessive police force.

Hankison was fired in June, while Mattingly and Cosgrove were reassigned to administrative duties.

Louisville has agreed to pay $12 million to Taylor’s family to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit.

In addition to largely orderly activists, the demonstrations have drawn a volatile mix of armed, right-wing militias and anarchists.

On Thursday evening in Louisville, a throng of protesters was seen by a Reuters journalist confronting a group of about 15 armed individuals dressed in military-style gear who identified themselves as members of the Oath Keepers, an organization associated with the militia movement.

The standoff was diffused when protest organizer persuaded demonstrators in their group to leave peacefully. Two of the Oath Keepers, one of them a Black man, told WAVE-TV they were in town as volunteers to protect local property.

(Reporting by Carlos Barria and Bryan Woolston in Louisville; Additional reporting by Peter Szekely, Nathan Layne, Maria Caspani and Daniel Trotta; Additional reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Steve Gorman; ;Editing by Leslie Adler and Daniel Wallis)

Portland police declare riot during protests after Breonna Taylor ruling

(Reuters) – Police in Portland, Oregon declared a riot late on Wednesday after protesters damaged a police building in unrest that followed the grand jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case.

“To those who have gathered outside of Central Precinct on Southwest 2nd Avenue. This gathering has been declared a riot,” the police force said in a tweet. The crowd was told to vacate or face tear gas, other crowd control agents or arrest.

One of the protesters hurled a homemade firebomb or Molotov cocktail towards police officers outside of the precinct, a video shared by Portland police on Twitter showed.

Upper windows appeared to be damaged and part of an awning outside the building was on fire, according to a photograph shared by the police, which said the building had suffered “substantial damage”.

Two police officers were shot and wounded late on Wednesday in Louisville, Kentucky, during protests over a grand jury ruling on the fatal police shooting of Taylor, a Black woman who was killed in her home during a raid in March.

Earlier in the day, the grand jury decided that none of the three white officers involved in the police raid on Taylor’s apartment would be charged for causing her death. One officer was indicted on charges of endangering her neighbors.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru)

Emotional Louisville braces for more unrest after Breonna Taylor ruling

By Bryan Woolston

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) – Louisville braced for a second night of protests on Thursday after two police officers were shot during demonstrations over a decision by a grand jury not to file homicide charges against police in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Protests erupted in the Kentucky city on Wednesday after the state attorney general announced that a grand jury did not bring any charges for the six police bullets that struck Taylor, a Black woman, but instead lesser charges against one of the white policemen for stray shots that hit the neighboring apartment.

Civil rights activists decried the outcome as a miscarriage of justice and part of a nationwide pattern of unwarranted police violence against minorities.

The demonstration started peacefully and emotionally on Wednesday night, with many protesters in tears after they had mourned Taylor for months, demanding the arrest of the officers involved.

Louisville turned violent after dark when the two officers were shot and wounded. Police arrested 127 people in Louisville, including Larynzo Johnson, 26, who was charged with two counts of assault in the first degree and 14 counts of wanton endangerment in connection with the wounding of the two officers.

“We are extremely fortunate these two officers will recover,” interim Louisville Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Schroeder said.

“For all of us it is a very tense and emotional time,” he added.

The Louisville protest was the latest in a wave to grip the country following the killings of African Americans by police, including the May 25 death of George Floyd when a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck.

Demonstrators led by the Black Lives Matter movement have demanded an end to racial injustice and excessive police force.

With people already casting ballots in early voting for the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election, the demonstrations have drawn not only peaceful anti-racism protests but also a volatile mix of armed, right-wing militias and anarchists.

On Wednesday, protests also flared in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, Oakland, Philadelphia, Denver, Portland and Seattle, where police said 13 were arrested for property destruction, resisting arrest, failure to disperse and assault on an officer.

In Buffalo, New York, a pickup truck sped into a group of demonstrators, injuring one person, video on social media showed.

GIRDING FOR UNREST

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer declared a state of emergency ahead of the grand jury announcement, ordering much of the center of town barricaded and setting a 9 p.m. curfew that remained in effect on Thursday.

National Guard units gathered in a central Louisville parking garage and a heavy vehicle known as a wrecker was seen driving into town, social media images showed.

“Tonight I expect more people to hit the streets. I expect the police to continue to antagonize and provoke. Hopefully and prayerfully, no one gets hurt tonight,” said Timothy Findley Jr., 41, a leader of the Justice & Freedom Coalition and a pastor with the Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center in Louisville.

Police said some protesters damaged businesses, jumped on a police vehicle, vandalized public works trucks serving as barricades, set garbage cans on fire and defied orders to disperse from what police determined were unlawful assemblies.

At least three stores were looted, police said.

Taylor’s death on March 13 drew little national attention at first but was thrust into prominence after Floyd’s death and with the help of celebrities such as Hollywood stars and basketball great LeBron James.

Demonstrations under the banner “Say her name!” have been held in Louisville for months.

Taylor, 26, an emergency medical technician and aspiring nurse, was killed in front of her armed boyfriend after the three officers forced their way into her home with a search warrant in a drug-trafficking investigation.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the panel declined to bring any charges against two of the three policemen who fired into Taylor’s apartment because their actions were found to have been justified under Kentucky law as they returned fire after Taylor’s boyfriend shot at them, wounding one.

Police fired a total of 32 shots after the one round from Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who said he fired a warning shot because he feared a criminal intrusion and did not hear police identify themselves.

(Reporting by Bryan Woolston in Louisville; Additional reporting by Peter Szekely, Nathan Layne, Maria Caspani and Daniel Trotta; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Alistair Bell and Cynthia Osterman)

Two police officers shot amid Louisville protests over Breonna Taylor ruling

By Bryan Woolston and Jonathan Allen

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Reuters) – Two police officers were shot and wounded late on Wednesday in Louisville, Kentucky, during protests of a grand jury ruling decried by civil rights activists as a miscarriage of justice in the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor in March.

The grand jury decided that none of the three white officers involved in the deadly police raid on Taylor’s apartment would be charged for causing her death, though one officer was indicted on charges of endangering her neighbors.

The indictment came more than six months after Taylor, 26, a Black emergency medical technician and aspiring nurse, was killed in front of her armed boyfriend after the three officers forced their way into her home with a search warrant in a drug trafficking investigation.

Her death became a symbol, and her image a familiar sight, during months of daily protests against racial injustice and police brutality in cities across the United States. Last month media mogul Oprah Winfrey featured Taylor on the cover of her magazine calling for prosecution of the officers involved in her slaying.

Following the grand jury announcement, protesters immediately took to the streets of Kentucky’s largest city and marched for hours chanting, “No lives matter until Black lives matter,” amid sporadic clashes with police in riot gear.

The demonstrations remained mostly peaceful until several gunshots rang out as heavily armed police closed in on a throng of protesters at nightfall, ordering the crowd to disperse about a half hour before a 9 p.m. curfew was due to go into effect.

A Reuters journalist on the scene heard gunfire erupt from the crowd moments after police had fired chemical irritants and “flash-bang” rounds.

Two officers were shot and wounded, interim Louisville Metropolitan Police chief Robert Schroeder told reporters.

One suspect was arrested, and the two wounded officers were in stable condition – one undergoing surgery – with non-life-threatening injuries, Schroeder said. He gave no further details.

Earlier in the day about a dozen people were arrested in a skirmish between hundreds of demonstrators and a group of law enforcement officers in the Highlands neighborhood just outside downtown Louisville. Some windows of nearby businesses were also broken. The crowds largely dissipated after Wednesday night’s shooting. Police said at least 46 arrests were made in all.

Sympathy protests of varying sizes also were held in several other cities on Wednesday, including New York, Washington, Atlanta, and Chicago.

‘GUT-WRENCHING’ CASE

In announcing the grand jury’s conclusions, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the panel had declined to bring any charges whatsoever against two of the three white policemen who fired into Taylor’s apartment on March 13.

The two officers, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were found to have been justified under Kentucky law in returning fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot at them, wounding Mattingly in the thigh, Cameron said.

Walker has contended he believed intruders were breaking into Taylor’s home and that the couple did not hear police announce their arrival, contrary to the account of the officers and a neighbor.

The third officer, former Detective Brett Hankison, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree, an offense that ranks at the lowest level of felony crimes in Kentucky and carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

Cameron said those three counts stem from the fact that some of the rounds Hankison fired – 10 in all – traveled through Taylor’s apartment into an adjacent unit where a man, a pregnant woman and a child were at home.

Cameron, however, said there was “no conclusive” evidence that any of Hankison’s bullets struck Taylor.

Six bullets struck Taylor, he said, and ballistics investigators found only one shot, fired by Cosgrove, was fatal, Cameron said.

“There is no doubt that this is a gut-wrenching, emotional case,” Cameron, a Black Republican, said at a news conference.

Benjamin Crump, a prominent civil rights lawyer representing the Taylor family, denounced the outcome of the grand jury probe, saying it was “outrageous” that none of the three officers involved in the raid was criminally charged with causing Taylor’s death.

Governor Andy Beshear called on Cameron to release all evidence from the investigation to benefit the public’s understanding of the case. “Those feeling frustration, hurt – they deserve to know more,” he said.

Addressing a separate news conference, Mayor Greg Fischer said the U.S. Justice Department was still investigating whether federal laws were broken in connection with Taylor’s death, including possible civil rights violations, while a broader police inquiry remained under way.

“It’s clear that there are policies and procedures that needed to be changed, because Breonna Taylor should still be alive,” he said. “Let’s turn to each other, not on each other, at this moment of opportunity.”

The police chief fired Hankison in June, finding he had “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired” into Taylor’s home. Mattingly and Cosgrove were reassigned to administrative duties.

Louisville has agreed to pay $12 million to Taylor’s family to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit, Fischer announced earlier this month. He said the settlement was intended to “begin the healing process.”

“We do not need to wait for the final judgment of that investigation to do more to deliver justice for Breonna,” he added.

(Reporting by Bryan Woolston in Louisville, Rich McKay in Atlanta, Nathan Layne in Westport, Connecticut, Makini Brice in Washington, Brendan O’Brien in Chicago, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Writing by Jonathan Allen and Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Michael Perry)

Kentucky grand jury finds use of force in Breonna Taylor death justified

By Bryan Woolston and Jonathan Allen

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Reuters) – Two white police officers who fired into the apartment of Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, will face no charges for her death because their use of force was justified, but a third will be charged with the wanton endangerment of her neighbors, the state attorney general said on Wednesday.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced the Louisville grand jury’s decision at a news conference as protesters against racial injustice and police brutality massed on city streets.

Former Detective Brett Hankison’s indictment for wanton endangerment in the first degree represents the lowest level of felony crime in Kentucky and carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

Benjamin Crump, a civil rights lawyer representing the Taylor family, said it was “outrageous” that none of the officers would be criminally charged for Taylor’s death.

Taylor, 26, was killed in front of her armed boyfriend shortly after midnight on March 13 at her Louisville apartment after Hankison and his two colleagues forced their way in with a so-called “no knock” warrant.”

The two other officers, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not charged because they were justified under Kentucky law in returning fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot at them, wounding Mattingly in the thigh, Cameron said.

“There is no doubt that this is a gut-wrenching, emotional case,” Cameron, a Black Republican, said at a news conference.

Hankison fired his weapon 10 times. Some of the bullets traveled through Taylor’s apartment into adjacent apartment three, where a man, a pregnant woman and a child were at home.

There was “no conclusive” evidence that any of Hankison’s bullets hit Taylor, Cameron said.

Organizers of the protests against police brutality that have become a daily occurrence expressed frustration at the outcome.

“Tonight, tempers may flare,” said community organizer Reece Chenault, 40. “People are going to be sad and I think you are going to see a lot of tears with folks who are marching.”

About 400 protesters wound their way out of downtown Louisville’s Jefferson Square Park and marched through the streets chanting, “Out of the homes, into the streets!”

‘WANTON MURDER,’ LAWYER SAYS

“If Brett Hankison’s behavior was wanton endangerment to people in neighboring apartments, then it should have been wanton endangerment in Breonna Taylor’s apartment too,” Crump said. “In fact, it should have been ruled wanton murder!”

Ahead of the announcement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced a 72-hour curfew for the city beginning at 9 p.m.

“I urge everybody to choose peaceful and lawful protest,” Fischer, a white Democrat, said shortly before the announcement.

The three officers involved in the raid knocked on Taylor’s apartment door and announced their presence outside, which was corroborated by a neighbor who witnessed the arrival, Cameron said. Getting no answer, they “breached the door,” he said.

Mattingly entered first, and at the end of a corridor saw Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, with Walker pointing a gun.

Walker fired, injuring Mattingly in the thigh. Mattingly returned fire, and his colleagues began shooting soon after, Cameron said. Hankison fired 10 bullets, Cameron said.

Six bullets hit Taylor, Cameron said, contradicting reports she had been hit five times. Ballistics investigators found only one shot, fired by Cosgrove, was deadly, Cameron said.

In June, the Louisville Metro Police Department fired Hankison with Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder writing that Hankison “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired” into Taylor’s home.

The department reassigned Mattingly and Cosgrove to administrative duties.

Louisville police obtained the warrant to enter Taylor’s apartment from a judge as part of an investigation into a drug ring at another house elsewhere in Louisville. They told the judge that they believed that one of the men suspected of selling drugs had used Taylor’s apartment to receive packages.

Taylor had previously dated a suspected drug seller but had severed ties with him, according to her family.

She and Walker, were in bed when police broke down her door with a battering ram shortly after midnight, the families’ representatives have said.

Walker has been charged with attempted murder. His lawyer has said there is evidence the bullet in Mattingly’s thigh was shot by one of his colleagues, not by Walker, but Cameron disputed this on Wednesday.

Images of Taylor have become a familiar sight at ongoing protests against police violence in cities across the United States. Last month, television mogul Oprah Winfrey featured an image of Taylor on the cover of O, the Oprah Magazine.

Louisville has agreed to pay $12 million to Taylor’s family to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit, Mayor Fischer announced earlier this month.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

A ghostly downtown Louisville braces for Breonna Taylor grand jury decision

By Bryan Woolston and Jonathan Allen

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) – The police department in Louisville, Kentucky, was restricting vehicle access downtown on Tuesday ahead of an expected decision by a grand jury on whether to indict the police officers involved in killing Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, in a botched raid.

Although the timing of any decision remains unclear, on Tuesday morning courthouses, offices and restaurants were already boarded up in the mostly deserted blocks around the city’s Jefferson Square Park, the site of regular demonstrations by people protesting police brutality against Black people.

Concrete barriers ringed the area, with a handful of checkpoints manned by police who would only allow people with essential business to drive downtown. Pedestrians were free to walk the streets, but few did.

Taylor, 26, was killed shortly after midnight on March 13 when three plainclothes officers used a battering ram to force their way in to her Louisville home with a so-called no knock warrant. Fearing intruders, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a gun. The three officers fired their guns, striking Taylor five times.

Taylor’s death, alongside that of George Floyd, a Black man who died in May after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, helped spark a nationwide wave of protests demanding racial justice and an end to the use of excessive force by law enforcement.

The Louisville Metro Police Department on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for its staff, cancelling days off and suspending some overtime pay agreements, according to a memo by Robert Schroeder, the interim police chief, published by local media.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Black Republican, has said his investigation into Taylor’s death is ongoing, but has declined to confirm media reports that he is convening a grand jury to vote on whether to bring criminal charges against the officers.

Mayor Greg Fischer, a white Democrat, said his office does not know when a decision will come down or what it will be, but said in a statement on Tuesday the traffic restrictions were to “keep everyone safe.”

“Our goal with these steps is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights,” his statement said.

The city’s main federal courthouse has also been closed all week in an order by Chief Judge Greg Stivers of the Western District of Kentucky.

(Reporting by Bryan Woolston in Louisville, Ky., and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death to appear in court

(Reuters) – The former Minneapolis police officer charged with the May 25 killing of George Floyd, and three other former officers charged in the case are expected to appear in court on Monday.

Derek Chauvin, 44, was arrested on May 29, four days after he pinned his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, causing his death. He is facing a second-degree murder charge.

Three other former Minneapolis police officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane, have been charged with aiding and abetting in the case. None of the officers have entered a plea.

Bail for Chauvin was set at $1.25 million or $1 million under certain conditions, while bail for the other three officers was set at $1 million each or $750,000 under certain conditions.

Chauvin and Thao, 34, remain in custody, while Kueng, 26, and Lane, 37, have been released on conditional bond, according to jail records.

Monday’s court proceedings in Minneapolis will not be broadcast following a judge’s ruling on Friday. Chauvin will attend the hearing remotely via a video link, while the other three defendants will appear in person, according to the court’s website.

The death of Floyd, 46, sparked nationwide protests calling for racial justice and police reform.

Earlier this month, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a resolution to pursue a community-led public safety system to replace the police department.

The move came days after a veto-proof majority of the council voted to disband the police department in the wake of Floyd’s death.

The movement to “defund the police,” as some advocates have termed it, predates the current protests but it has won new support after a spate of recent killings of African Americans by white police officers that were caught on video.

In Atlanta, a white former police officer is in custody after he was charged with the murder in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, a Black man.

One of three officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed in a hail of gunfire when drug investigators burst into her home in Louisville, Kentucky, three months ago was dismissed from the police department last week.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York and Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut,; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Louisville police officer fired over fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor

By Bryan Woolston

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) – One of three officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed in a hail of gunfire when drug investigators burst into her home in Louisville, Kentucky, three months ago was dismissed from the police department on Tuesday.

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was killed on March 13 after the officers entered her apartment bearing a “no-knock” arrest warrant.

In a termination notice issued after an administrative hearing, Louisville police chief Robert Schroeder wrote that detective Brett Hankison “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired” 10 rounds into Taylor’s home.

Schroeder said the gunshots were fired through a patio door and window covered with material obscuring Hankison’s line of sight, preventing him from knowing whether anyone was inside the apartment, let alone whether they posed a threat. Some of the rounds he fired flew into the unit next door, the chief wrote.

Two other officers involved in the raid remain on administrative reassignment. No criminal charges have been filed against any of the three.

The notice also said Hankison, who joined the department in 2003, was disciplined in 2019 for reckless conduct that injured an innocent person.

Taylor’s slaying, which returned to prominence following the May 25 death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, has become a rallying cry in nationwide protests against police brutality and racial bias in the U.S. criminal justice system.

In the immediate aftermath of the Taylor killing, police said the officers had knocked on the door before forcing entry and were shot at by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. One officer was struck in the leg, and all three returned fire, hitting Taylor at least eight times, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Walker was charged with attempted murder and assault, but prosecutors later dropped the charges, the Courier-Journal reported.

(Reporting by Bryan Woolston in Louisville, Ky.; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Leslie Adler)