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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Two police officers shot amid Louisville protests over Breonna Taylor ruling

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LOUISVILLE, Ken-tucky, (Reuters) – Two police officers were shot and wounded late yesterday in Louisville, Kentucky, during protests ignited by a grand jury decision that civil rights activists decried as a miscarriage of justice in the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor

The grand jury ruled that two white policemen will not be prosecuted in connection with the death of Taylor, a Black medical worker shot in her own apartment, because their use of force during an ill-fated raid on her home was justified, but a third officer was charged with endangering her neighbours.

Daylong street protests erupted in violence after dark when two police officers on duty in the midst of the demonstrations were shot and wounded, Robert Schroeder, interim chief of the Louisvile Metropolitan Police Department, told reporters.

He said one suspect had been arrested, and that the two officers were in stable condition, one undergoing surgery, with injuries he described as non-life-threatening. He declined to give any further details.

Announcing the grand jury’s conclusions hours earlier, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said that two white policemen who fired into Black medial worker Taylor’s apartment on March 13 will not be prosecuted for her death because their use of force during the raid was justified.

A third officer was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, a relatively low-level felony, stemming from bullets he fired astray into an adjacednt apartment of Taylor’s neighbors, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron said.

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.

Protesters immediately took to the streets chanting, “No lives matter until Black lives matter,” marching for hours through Kentucky’s largest city, amid sporadic clashes with police in riot gear.

The demonstrations wore on past nightfall in defiance of a 9 p.m. curfew and remained mostly peaceful until several gunshots rang out in the midst of a skirmish between protesters and heavily armed police, sending members of the crowd scurrying for cover.

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

The Louisville Courier-Journal and other local media reported that two officers was wounded, and the FBI said it was responding shooting of at least one officer.

Earlier in the day about a dozen people were arrested in one confrontation between hundreds of demonstrators and a group of law enforcement officers in the Highlands neighborhood just outside downtown Louisville.

In the Highlands neighborhood at the edge of downtown, a number of protesters threw water bottles at police, who responded by firing pepper balls into the crowd. Scuffles ensued, and some windows of area businesses were broken.

Rallies of varying sizes protesting the outcome of the Louisville grand jury investigation also were held in several other cities, including New York, Washington, Atlanta, and Chicago.

Taylor, 26, was killed in front of her armed boyfriend shortly past midnight after three officers forced their way into her home with a search warrant.

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 crime in Kentucky and carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

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.

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.

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