A grand jury indicted Brett Hankison on charges of wanton endangerment for his actions on the night of the shooting that killed Breonna Taylor. No other charges were announced.
A grand jury indicted a former Louisville police officer on Wednesday for wanton endangerment during a botched drug raid that led to the death of Breonna Taylor in March. No charges were announced against the other two officers who fired shots, and no one was charged for causing her death.
The three-count indictment concerns Brett Hankison, a detective at the time, who fired into the sliding glass patio door and window of Ms. Taylor’s apartment building, both of which were covered with blinds, in violation of a department policy that requires officers to have a line of sight.
He is the only one of the three officers who was dismissed from the force, with a termination letter stating that he showed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
In a news conference following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision, Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, said, “The decision before my office is not to decide if the loss of Breonna Taylor’s life was a tragedy — the answer to that question is unequivocally yes,” he said.
USA Today points out some other key developments related to the case:
Attorney General Daniel Cameron said his investigation determined that Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove were justified in their actions and that they did announce themselves as police officers before the shooting.
The mayor of Louisville imposed a 72-hour curfew on Wednesday a day after declaring a state of emergency. Police have cut off access to downtown Louisville and set up barricades and fences around buildings.
Six Louisville police officers – including the three who fired their weapons into Breonna Taylor’s apartment – are under internal investigation into whether officers broke department policies. The review is separate from the one the department sent to the Kentucky attorney general to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
Last week, the city of Louisville announced a $12 million settlement with Breonna Taylor’s family, which included a host of police reforms. The police union said it felt betrayed by the mayor, while activists said arresting the officers involved is the only way to get justice.
Also last week, the Louisville metro council declared a no confidence vote in the mayor over his handling of the Taylor case.
In other news, Planet Is Burning, But First Presidential Debate Set to Ignore Humanity’s Most Pressing Issue: Climate
Even as devastating wildfires across the U.S. West Coast and rapidly shrinking Arctic sea ice offer alarming evidence of the reality and immediacy of the climate crisis, the planetary emergency was apparently deemed not worthy of inclusion on the list of official topics for next Tuesday’s presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Unveiled Tuesday by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the featured topics of the 90-minute event—moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News—are expected to be the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, the Supreme Court, the two candidates’ records, election integrity, and “race and violence in our cities.”
While the topics are subject to change, the initial exclusion of the greatest crisis facing humanity sparked backlash from environmentalists, who characterized the ongoing neglect of the climate emergency as yet another dereliction of duty by the corporate media.
“At a time when wildfires are burning down an entire coast, it’s absolutely unconscionable for the media to dismiss climate change as a topic in the first presidential debate,” Varshini Prakash, executive director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said in a statement late Tuesday. “Poll after poll shows the climate crisis looms large on the minds of voters across the country; an NPR survey released yesterday showed it was the single most important issue among Democrats. Young Republican voters also list climate as their top concern.”
Prakash said her organization is “committed to mobilizing our movement to protest at the presidential debates until Chris Wallace and other mainstream reporters address climate head on.”
“The American people are crying out for a real solution to the crises we find ourselves,” said Prakash continued. “We need to open up conversations around how we can mobilize our government to fight the climate crisis while also creating millions of good jobs in the process of recovering from an economic collapse and global pandemic. It’s an abdication of the media’s role to keep people informed for climate to be completely erased from the docket.”
Throughout his first term, Trump repeatedly dismissed or downplayed the climate emergency and contributed to it by gutting basic environmental protections and rushing to expand domestic fossil fuel production at a time when rapid planetary warming demands an urgent transition away from polluting energy sources.
Biden, for his part, put forth a $2 trillion green energy plan in July that climate groups said is a good first step but ultimately insufficient to deliver the needed transformational change.
Earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, Biden slammed the president’s ongoing climate denial in the face of the catastrophic wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington state and said that “in the years ahead, there will be no challenge more consequential to our future than meeting and defeating the onrushing climate crisis.”
“The science is clear, and deadly signs like these are unmistakable—climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life,” Biden said in a statement. “President Trump can try to deny that reality, but the facts are undeniable. We absolutely must act now to avoid a future defined by an unending barrage of tragedies like the one American families are enduring across the West today.”
Despite the marked contrasts between the two candidates on climate policy, it is unclear whether their differences will receive any attention or discussion at next Tuesday’s debate, which will come less than 40 days ahead of the November 3 election.
Evan Weber, co-founder and political director of the Sunrise Movement, tweeted Tuesday that if Wallace fails to mention the climate emergency in his questions, Biden must bring up the topic on his own.
“Polling shows it’s the biggest wedge he’s got” said Weber. “It’s just smart politics.”
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