Outrage over lack of charges in Breonna Taylor's death turns into protests across the US
Outrage and heartbreak boiled over into protests in cities across the US on Wednesday after news broke that none of the three officers involved in Breonna Taylor's death were charged with her killing.
More than six months after Taylor was shot to death after Louisville police officers broke down the door to her apartment while executing a warrant, a grand jury decided to indict only one of the three officers involved on first-degree wanton endangerment charges. The charge applies to the risk put on Taylor's neighbors, but does not hold the officer responsible for her death.
From Louisville to Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York, masses of people congregated to protest the decision. Police in Portland declared protests gathered outside the Justice Center a riot. And in Seattle, 13 people were arrested after a night of multiple fires and protesters throwing glass bottles and fireworks at police, authorities said.
"We will go to our graves proclaiming that Breonna Taylor did not get justice from the Kentucky attorney general's office," attorney for the Taylor family, Ben Crump, told CNN's Don Lemon Wednesday.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency room technician and aspiring nurse, was described by relatives as a hard-working, goal-oriented young woman who placed an emphasis on family, Crump said demonstrations over her death are "righteous anger."
In anticipation of potential unrest, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer signed an executive order setting a statewide 72-hour curfew starting at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday.
2 officers shot in Louisville protests
Shortly before the curfew began, there were reports of gunfire near one of the marches in Louisville.
Two of the responding officers were shot and had non-life-threatening wounds, Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder told reporters. A suspect was in custody, he added.
Three videos obtained by CNN appear to show the gunshots and the scene that was set before they rang out. One video livestreamed by the Louisville Metro Police Department shows police moving forward as three apparent flash bands are fired into the air toward the protesters. Nine shots can be heard in a police video.
"Shots fired, shots fired," a voice is heard saying on the police livestream. "Officers down ... take cover."
One officer is in surgery, Schroeder told reporters. The FBI Louisville office is asking for the public to continue to submit any videos related to the shooting of the officers, according to a post on the FBI's website.
Meanwhile, another suspect was detained in Denver, where police say a vehicle was driven into a protest Wednesday night. There were no injuries, police said in a tweet.
At least one person was knocked to the ground in the protest that was peaceful up until the vehicle rammed into the crowd, CNN affiliate KCNC reported.
The deadly raid on Breonna Taylor's home
The incident that ended Taylor's life began with a narcotics investigation on March 13.
Former Det. Brett Hankison, Sgt. John Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove were executing a search warrant on Taylor's home, though her ex-boyfriend was the focus of the narcotics investigation. Her ex-boyfriend was arrested on drug charges last month and told a Kentucky newspaper that she had nothing to do with the probe into an alleged drug trade that spurred the warrant.
Taylor was sleeping next to her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker III, in the early hours of March 13, when they heard a noise. They both got up and walked to the door.
"She's yelling at the top of her lungs — and I am too at this point — 'who is it?' " recalled Walker, her boyfriend. "No answer. No response. No anything."
Police forced entry into the home, and Walker said he couldn't see but he fired one shot. After entering, Mattingly was shot in the leg, Attorney General Daniel Cameron said on Wednesday.
The chaotic police operation that night was exacerbated by Hankison, who was accused by his own department of "blindly" firing 10 bullets into Taylor's apartment from an outdoor patio. Hankison was fired in June, theLouisville police chief said, but he is appealing his termination. His attorney, David Leightty, has declined to comment.
Cameron argued the officers were "justified in their use of force" because Taylor's boyfriend fired first.
Charges aren't related to her death
Hankison was charged with endangering not Taylor's life, but those of the people in the next apartment, Crump said.
Crump said the decision was an insult to Taylor's family and an outrage to the community.
"The fact that you're going to charge for bullets going into an apartment but not for bullets going into Breonna Taylor's body is outrageous," Crump told CNN's Don Lemon Wednesday. "There are two justice systems in America: one for Black America, one for White America."
First-degree wanton endangerment is a Class D felony, the lowest of four classes of felonies. The maximum sentence is five years; the minimum is one year.
The NAACP said in a statement that the justice system "failed" Taylor and the charges against one officer do "not go far enough."
"The decision before my office is not to decide if the loss of Breonna Taylor's life was a tragedy," said Cameron, the first Black person to hold the post and a rising Republican star. "The answer to that question is unequivocally yes."
Cameron called the Taylor's death "a gut-wrenching emotional case." He defended the length of the investigation, saying the time reflected "how important it was to get this right."
"I certainly understand the pain that has been brought about by the tragic loss of Ms. Taylor. I understand that as an attorney general who is responsible for all 120 counties, in terms of being the chief legal officer -- the chief law enforcement officer, I understand that. I understand that as a Black man -- how painful this is, which is why it was so incredibly important to make sure that we did everything we possibly could to uncover every fact."
CNN's Eric Levenson, Konstantin Toropin, Mark Morales and Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report.