Outrage erupts over Breonna Taylor grand jury ruling

A number of lawmakers, celebrities and other public figures expressed outrage Wednesday over the decision by a Louisville grand jury in the Breonna Taylor case.

The grand jury only found three counts against one of the three officers involved in the shooting that killed Taylor in her own apartment.

And while Brett Hankison faces three counts of wanton endangerment for shots from his weapon that went into other apartments, none of the officers were directly held responsible for Taylor’s death. She was shot six times when police entered her home on March 13.

“Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. This result is a disgrace and an abdication of justice. Our criminal justice system is racist,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a tweet. “The time for fundamental change is now.”

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump called the grand jury’s decision “outrageous and offensive.”

“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, who is representing the Taylor family, tweeted. “In fact, it should have been ruled wanton murder!” 

Hankison fired 10 shots into Taylor’s apartment, but Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) said there was no conclusive evidence that any of the bullets fired by Hankison hit Taylor. Rather, some of the bullets fired by Hankison traveled into an adjacent occupied apartment, which is why he is being charged.

Classified as a Class D felony in the state, each count of wanton endangerment can carry up to five years of prison time.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said that systemic racism continues to plague the country.

“I will never feel the weight of 400 years of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow … but I can listen, I can try to hear, and I can be clear: Systematic racism exists in this world, in this country and in our commonwealth,” Beshear said, noting that he had no power over how Cameron and his office conducted their investigation.

“As governor you can do a lot of things, and some people think you can do just about anything, but as governor I cannot control an attorney general’s office, I cannot control decisions made by a grand jury and I don’t lead local law enforcement offices,” Beshear continued. “What I can control is how I lead, what I say, what I am committed to doing.”

Basketball star Donovan Mitchell, who played for Louisville University, said he was at a loss for words. Fellow NBA standout DeMarcus Cousins tweeted: “Slap on the wrist for MURDER, but 10 yrs for tearing down a punk ass statue,” referring to an executive order that President Trump signed earlier in the summer that beefed up the penalty for protestors toppling statues of historical figures, many of whom owned slaves.

Other Democratic lawmakers also expressed their immense displeasure with the charges.

In a statement, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, stated: “These charges are an affront to the movement for justice and peace in this country and conveys loud and clear that Breonna Taylor’s life does not matter to the legal system of the United States.”

Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, urged Americans upset by the result to “take this anger to the polls and vote. … The only way to change the system is to overwhelm it.”

Actress Kerry Washington also encouraged people to vote.

“I understand the desire to not vote. To reject a system that abuses you & denies your worth,” she tweeted. “But please know that the system – DOES see your worth. It’s AFRAID of your power. That’s why it works so hard to make you feel powerless. You are NOT powerless. Vote!”

Tags Bernie Sanders Black Lives Matter Breonna Taylor charges Daniel Cameron Donald Trump Karen Bass Kentucky Louisville Louisville police misconduct
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