Gunfire erupts in protests after Louisville policemen cleared in Breonna Taylor death

People react after a decision in the criminal case against police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead by police in her apartment, in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Reuters) – Two white policemen who fired into the apartment of Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, will not be prosecuted for her death because their use of force was justified, and a third was charged with endangering her neighbors, Kentucky’s attorney general said on Wednesday.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced the Louisville grand jury’s decision at a news conference, as protesters against racial injustice and police brutality massed in the streets of Kentucky’s largest city, some clashing 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.

The Louisville Courier-Journal and other local media reported that one officer was wounded, and the FBI said it was responding to reports that an officer was shot.

Television station WAVE-TV said two officers were hit and that at least one arrest was made, but none of those reports could be independent confirmed immediately.

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

Crowds of varying sizes were also gathering in New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Chicago.

Benjamin Crump, a civil rights lawyer representing the Taylor family, said it was “outrageous” that none of the three officers involved in the March 13 police raid was criminally charged with causing Taylor’s death.

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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