‘Wanton Endangerment’: No Justice for Breonna
This week on democracy-ish, our hosts are confused, angry and hurt –– but not shocked –– by the deeply unsatisfying indictment of one of the three cops responsible for Breonna Taylor’s murder.
Although the Louisville medical examiner ruled Breonna’s death a homicide, a grand jury indicted just one officer, who was charged with wanton endangerment. WTF is that? And who’s to blame?
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Although the medical examiner ruled Breonna’s death a homicide, a grand jury recommended Officer Brett Hankison be charged with the crime of wanton endangerment.
“For shooting wildly into her apartment, not for murdering her, which of course happened because he shot wildly into her apartment,” Toure says.
Like everybody else who’s not a lawyer, Danielle had to look that one up.
“What the fuck does that mean?” she asks. “Because it doesn't sound like homicide. It doesn't even sound like manslaughter. And the good Google told me: In Kentucky, it’s a Class D felony.”
Other Class D felonies include unauthorized use of a credit card, possession of a controlled substance, and stalking in the first degree. The maximum prison sentence for these crimes? Five years.
And the indictment stipulated that this wanton act endangered the neighbors in the adjacent apartment, not Breonna or her boyfriend.
As the saying goes, a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich. So why didn’t the citizens of Louisville indict these murderers?
That’s just one of the topics to unpack this week.
Episode Highlights –– We’re Fucked!
Endangerment –– ‘for everyone but Breonna’
Let’s review: In a botched “drug raid,” three plainclothes police officers used a battering ram to force their way into Breonna Taylor's home while she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, slept.
Thinking someone was breaking in, Kenneth fired his (licensed) gun once in self-defense, hitting Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh as they broke down the door.
Chaos ensued. The other two cops, Detectives Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison, fired multiple rounds into the apartment. One of them shot Breonna six times while she still laid in bed. Kenneth says she struggled to breathe for at least five minutes before she died.
Forensic analysis shows that Cosgrove fired the fatal shot. But he wasn’t charged.
Hankison, who fired into windows covered with blinds (a violation of a departmental “line of sight” policy) was charged. He’s now out on $15,000 bail and awaiting trial.
"Wanton endangerment was for everyone but Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend,” says Danielle. “This is a particular case in which Black lives really do not fucking matter.”
Toure wonders: “What if he had killed a white person?”
“We wouldn't be having this conversation,” Danielle replies.
‘Property before personhood’
Det. Hankison was fired, while the other cops were reassigned. The Louisville Police Department settled with the Taylor family for $12 million.
“But no person is responsible for the ending of Breonna’s life,” says Toure. “It's hurtful. It's tragic.”
And as the judge read the charges against the three officers, he “didn't even say her fucking name,” Danielle notes.
That’s one of the reasons why it’s unsurprising that the jury “didn't even see fit to say these three fucking murderers endangered her life –– took her life,” she adds.
But Toure and Danielle both think the Attorney General of Kentucky, Daniel Cameron, did not want those cops to be charged with killing Breonna. If he did, it “would be very easy to do at the grand jury level,” Toure says. “Once again, the system is protecting the police, not citizens.”
Danielle sees Came