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Breonna Taylor: What You Need to Know About the Grand Jury Indictment

In March, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was shot to death by officers who were executing a “no-knock” warrant for drugs. Following the botched raid in which she was struck by eight bullets, Taylor died in hallway of her apartment.

On Wednesday, a Kentucky grand jury finally announced its verdict following the investigation into Taylor’s shooting. It was an answer American people had been waiting months for.

Only one police officer was indicted.

The final decision indicted former Detective Brett Hankinson for wanton endangerment in the first degree — minor felony charges not centered on the death of an unarmed Black woman, but rather the shots fired at neighboring apartments in the complex where Taylor lived. According to CNN, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the other two officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, who fired their weapons directly into Taylor’s apartment were justified. 

Leaders spoke out immediately. 

If you’re thinking that the decision doesn’t seem to align with the gravity of Taylor’s death, you wouldn’t be the only one. How did others react to the news? Politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris took social media calling for action and condemning the lack of justice.

The NAACP released a statement articulating the outrage that many are feeling: “The charges of wanton endangerment in connection with the murder of Breonna Taylor does not go far enough and is a miscarriage of justice for her family and the people of Louisville…The justice system failed Breonna Taylor and, as such, failed us.” 

There are calls for evidence to be released.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear called for the release of the evidence used in the case. According to the Courier Journal, Beshear explained during a press conference that Attorney General Cameron “talked about information, facts, evidence that neither [he] nor the general public have seen,” noting that the public deserves this information. Cameron responded to this call saying that he would not release the evidence at this time, and that releasing information now would compromise the federal investigation and violate a prosecutor’s ethical duties.

Taylor’s family has also called on Cameron to release transcripts of the grand jury proceedings.

Protestors are expressing their anger and sadness. 

Since the verdict was announced, protests in major cities have surged. The most notable is in Louisville where two officers were shot during the first night of protests, though AP notes that both are in stable condition and the suspect is in custody. 

People across the country are feeling lost right now, myself included. Our justice system is supposed to keep us safe and to right wrongs that are committed — but it has proven that it does not protect all citizens to the same extent. Until the justice system and our leaders work for each and every one of us, they work for none. 

Elizabeth Sander is a National Writer for Her Campus and a recent graduate from Tufts University, where she earned a BA in English and French. Elizabeth served as a Her Campus Editorial Intern for the Fall of 2020 and loved every minute. When not writing articles about all things culture and style (or the occasional personal essay), Elizabeth spends time creative writing, reading and working on flying crow pose. Next up on Elizabeth's agenda is Columbia J-School! Find her on insta @elizsander or for meals inspo @confinemnt_kitchn
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