A memorial to Breonna Taylor, placed in Jefferson Square Park, is photographed in downtown Louisville, Kentucky on September 23, 2020 as the city anticipates of the results of a grand jury inquiry into the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman shot by the Louisville Metro Police Department in her apartment earlier this year.
Jeff Dean | AFP | Getty Images
News of the grand jury’s decision in the Breonna Taylor case spread quickly Wednesday as demonstrators took to the streets of Louisville, protesting her killing and the limited charges brought against only one of the officers involved.
Protesters filled downtown neighborhoods after former Louisville police Detective Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment connected with the shooting that ended in Taylor’s killing. Detective Myles Cosgrove, the officer whose shot killed Taylor, faced no charges.
Hours before the city’s 9 p.m. curfew, police declared an unlawful assembly and clashed with demonstrators, pushing and shoving some and placing others in plastic handcuffs.
Tense moments played out as demonstrators and officers stood off near Jefferson Square Park. Police surrounded marchers and appeared to block them in. Water bottles were thrown at officers and law enforcement vehicles.
A protester attacked a news crew from NBC affiliate WAVE of Louisville. The crew was able to get away unharmed with the help of a security guard.
After dark, small fires appeared downtown, and demonstrators started to clear out of the park.
The office of Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement that an undisclosed number of National Guard units werer deployed to Louisville to “ensure that everybody can be safe during this period and that critical infrastructure, like our hospitals, are protected.”
State police and law enforcement in SWAT gear were seen standing near demonstrators.
Riot police arrest protesters in Louisville, Kentucky, on September 23, 2020, after a judge announced the charges brought by a grand jury against Detective Brett Hankison, one of three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March.
Ben Hendren | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Demonstrators also hit the streets of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests were planned in Dallas, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Earlier in the day, Judge Annie O’Connell announced that Hankison would be charged for firing shots that ended up in the apartments next to Taylor’s apartment.
No charges were announced against Louisville police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly or Cosgrove for their roles in Taylor’s death, though the state attorney general said Cosgrove’s shot killed Taylor. Their actions were considered justified by the grand jury because Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them. No murder or manslaughter charges were handed up against any of the three officers.
Fighting back tears, Louisville resident LaShawn Roberts said that the grand jury’s decision had hurt many people across Louisville and beyond.
“We’ve come so far, but we have so far to go,” Roberts said. “It makes me feel like we don’t mean s—.”
Protesters on foot and bikes descended on Jefferson Square Park, which has been dubbed “Breonna’s Park” since Taylor’s death.
Many raised their fists and chanted “Breonna Taylor,” encouraging friends to raise their voices as they marched past boarded-up windows and shuttered storefronts. Dozens of police cars kept close tabs on the protesters as they marched through the neighborhood.
“I am incredibly disheartened and heartbroken,” Linette Lowe, a protester, said. “Many of us aren’t shocked, especially those of us who have witnessed the long history of injustice in our community.”
Michelle Pennix said she wasn’t surprised by the grand jury action, but added, “I believe a day of reckoning is coming and those on the wrong side of history are going to be held accountable.”
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron called for peace in light of what he conceded would be an unpopular decision.
“I know that not everyone will be satisfied with the charges that we reported today,” Cameron told reporters in Frankfort. “Every person has an idea of what they think justice is. My role, as special prosecutor in this case, is to set aside everything in pursuit of the truth. My job was to present the facts to the grand jury and the grand jury then applies those facts to the law. “
He continued: “If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice. Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”
Taylor, 26, an emergency medical technician, was killed in March when the officers executed a search warrant in a drug investigation involving her ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, a convicted drug dealer.
Glover used Taylor’s address to receive packages, according to authorities. However, no drugs or money were recovered during the raid, according to the search warrant inventory document obtained by NBC News.
A demonstrator holds a sign with the image of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers, during a protest against the death George Floyd in Minneapolis, in Denver, Colorado on June 3, 2020.
Jason Connolly | AFP | Getty Images
The city of Louisville also settled a wrongful death suit filed by Taylor’s family for $12 million last week, which did not require the city to admit any wrongdoing.
The city installed roadblocks, barricades and chain-link fences at nearly every corner of the downtown area in preparation for the announcement. Meanwhile, the Louisville Metro Police Department and Mayor Greg Fischer declared states of emergency and announced a 72-hour curfew running from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
People going to and from work, places of worship or seeking medical attention will be allowed to move during the curfew, authorities said.
“We’re asking people to do their public protest during light,” Fischer told reporters. “Most of the violence that we’ve encountered over the past few months has occurred after dark.
Louisville Metro Police Department interim Chief Robert Schroeder vowed to help protesters Wednesday, giving them a “safe place to” demonstrate.
“Whatever the decision is, our officers are prepared to keep doing what they have been doing continuously since May 28 — protecting the public while also ensuring the constitutional rights for people to express their feelings in a lawful and peaceful manner,” he said.