A Kentucky grand jury has ruled that the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor was justified because officers were returning fire after being shot at by a man in her apartment. One of the officers at the scene was charged with wanton endangerment because of shots fired into other occupied apartments.
Kentucky Attorney General gave a statement at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. He said the shooting was "tragic" but legally it was justified as self-defense.
Much of what was presented by Cameron during the press conference contradicted media reports about the fatal shooting of Taylor, 26, during service of a drug investigation warrant on March 13.
Despite media reports that officers used a no-knock approach to serving the warrant, Cameron said a citizen witness told investigators that Louisville Metro Police officers did identify themselves before breaching the door. "This was not a no-knock warrant," Cameron said.
Cameron said that only one officer, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly actually entered the apartment during the incident. Once the door was breached Mattingly reportedly saw a man and a woman—Breonna Taylor—standing at the end of the hall. The man—identified by authorities as Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker—raised a handgun and fired one round at Mattingly. Mattingly was hit in the thigh, Cameron said.
Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove returned fire. Mattingly fired six shots and Cosgrove fired 16.
The attorney general did not say what Taylor did when the shooting started, but she was hit six times, he said. One of the shots was fatal.
Cameron said that the Kentucky State Police crime lab could not conclusively determine which officer fired the fatal shot. The evidence was also sent to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, VA. The FBI determined that Cosgrove fired the fatal shot.
Cameron explained to the press and to a live TV audience that Mattingly and Cosgrove could not be charged with a crime over Taylor's death because they fired back at Walker in self-defense.
Former Det. Hankinson, who was fired in June, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment—a Class D felony in Kentucky—because three of the 10 rounds he fired from outside of the building went through Taylor's apartment and into surrounding occupied apartments. He faces up to five years of prison for each count, if convicted. Cameron said. There is no conclusive evidence that any of Hankinson's shots hit Taylor.
Cameron said the investigation into the Taylor shooting involved thousands of hours of labor by a "dedicated team of prosecutors and investigators." The team, led by the attorney general, had more than 200 years of total experience.
Cameron said that he would soon be leading a task force to review warrant procedures in the state.
"I know that not everyone will be satisfied with this finding," Cameron said as he ended his prepared statement.
As he spoke WLKY showed a split-screen video of the attorney general addressing the press and public and crowds gathering in downtown Louisville.
Earlier this week, the city declared a state of emergency. Police were put on alert. Government buildings were secured. And some businesses were boarded up.
"Peaceful protest is your right, violence is not," Cameron said, addressing the protesters.
He added that he wanted the people of Kentucky to "continue to support the men and women of law enforcement."
In closing, Cameron said, "In a world forcing each of us to pick a side, I choose the side of justice."