What Happened To The Police Who Shot Breonna Taylor?

As COVID-19 ravaged the world in 2020, leaving millions dead in its wake and global economic recessions because of government lockdowns, police brutality and racial inequality in the United States justice system took center stage with the death of Breonna Taylor. As reported by NPR, Taylor was neither the first nor the last African American to die at the hands of police officers in 2020. However, as medical professionals were being lauded as heroes for facing the coronavirus head-on, Taylor, an emergency medical technician, intersected between racial justice politics and COVID-19.

In the early morning of March 13, 2020, Taylor and her partner, Kenneth Walker, were sleeping in their home when three white Louisville Metro Police Department officers, Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, entered the couple's property to perform a narcotics raid. Neither Walker nor Taylor were suspects in the raid and upon hearing what he believed to be an intruder in their home, Walker opened fire upon the officers, striking Mattingly in the leg. The officers proceeded to fire 32 bullets at the couple, fatally wounding Taylor.

The aftermath of the shooting saw massive protests throughout the country and calls for reforms in the LMPD, as well as criminal charges for the officers.

Two officers were fired, but not charged for Breonna Taylor's death

Within a year of the shooting, officers Hankison and Cosgrove and detective Joshua Jaynes were terminated from the LMPD, NPR reports. Officer Mattingly was cleared of the charge of violating department procedures in using deadly force and de-escalation. Hankison was fired after an investigation found that he fired "wantonly and blindly" into Taylor's apartment. Detective Jaynes, while not one of the three officers who fired their guns, and officer Cosgrove both violated department protocol when they obtained their warrant for Taylor's home. According to ABC WHAS 11, interim chief Yvette Gentry said Jaynes was dismissed for two reasons: He lied on his affidavit to obtain the search warrant and did not file the required forms.

Despite a protest movement to have the officers charged with Taylor's death, only officer Hankison was charged by the grand jury with three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting through Taylor's apartment and into her neighbor's home. The grand jury trial was fraught with controversy as Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron defended officers Mattingly and Cosgrove, saying they "were justified in their use of force." Further contention was whether the officers performed a no-knock warrant or made their presence known before entering. Because of the lack of body cameras, the public only had the word of the officers and Cameron, who said they did knock before entering the home. Kenneth Walker said the officers did not announce their presence, The New York Times reported.

Kentucky's legislature changed laws in the aftermath

According to NPR, Breonna Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, expressed her frustration with the legal system after the officers were not charged for her daughter's death.

"I have no faith in the legal system, in the police, in the law. ... They are not made to protect us Black and brown people."

In September 2020, the city of Louisville and Taylor's family announced a $12 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit Taylor's family filed against the city. Also included in the settlement were several police reforms. The city has prohibited no-knock warrants, something activists in Kentucky have been fighting to make statewide. The law, known as "Breonna's Law," was vetoed by Kentucky's House Judiciary Committee and instead, the state's senate passed a law to limit no-knock warrants, as opposed to outright banning them.

Officer Mattingly, the only officer not fired after the tragic night, said to ABC News and Louisville Courier Journal that the shooting was not "a race thing" and not similar to the George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery murders of the same year. Still, he said he felt that while the situation was a tragedy, he and the other officers were appropriate in their actions and city officials turned their backs on them.