Breonna Taylor’s Case: Self-Defense Laws Prevented Charges

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : September 25, 2020

In the end, the case went down. It was predicted by criminal law experts saying that the case will go down at the end. It was unbelievable for protesters in the Breonna Taylor case that no homicide charges were filed for any of the three Police officers of Louisville Metro police who were part of Taylor’s shooting. Three police officers name was highlighted since they fired weapons during the incident on March 13 as part of a search warrant at Breonna Taylor’s apartment which ended in her death.

Breonna Taylor’s case Self-defense laws prevented charges

By law, they didn’t disclose the identity of grand jurors who were part of the decision on Wednesday, and hence it was kept secret. So, no one will understand their reasoning unless they come to front or volunteer to speak. It felt like everything was hinged likely after the statement by Attorney General Daniel Cameron to the reporters on Wednesday. He said, “Kentucky’s laws on self-defense.” Cameron announced that, “There won’t be any homicide charges against Officer Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly. All three officers together fired 18 shots, and six of them hit Taylor. “There is a justification that they fired only after being fired upon.”

After the announcement, criminal defense lawyers said, “We are not surprised by the announcement or outcome. We are not surprised by the decision to fire only former officer Brett Hankison. Hankinson was already fired for shooting since he blindly shot Taylor in her apartment. There is the most significant surprise element in Hankison’s indictment, and that is on three counts wanton endangerment. They said, “Charges have filed for bullets that went into the adjacent apartment and not at Taylor’s apartment.” Attorney said, “Once the shot is fired against them, officers will return it since it is pursuant to training.” Seven criminal defense experts were carrying at least 35+ years of practice said, when they were in discussion with The Louisville Courier-Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, “We are not expecting that homicide charges will be filed against other two police officers in the incident. The charges are unlikely because officers have the right to return the fire since Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, fired already. Kenneth fired a ‘warning shot,’ and police later said, it struck officer Mattingly at his femoral artery, and it nearly killed him.”

But Walker said, “I didn’t know it was officers at the door. When they broke and came in, we came to know that these were officers. They came in with a battering ram and started searching for cash and drugs at Taylor’s apartment.” Attorney William E. Johnson, Frankfort, Kentucky, was admitted to practice in 1957, and he is famous as the dean of Kentucky criminal defense lawyers. He said, “There was a shot fired against the officers by someone inside the apartment. Now, it is pursuant and logical to training that the police officers will return the fire.”He also added, “Even though in the incident Taylor was unarmed, her boyfriend Walker present at the apartment with her was armed.” There were four options for indicting the police officers present in the incident. The grand jury’s four options were any one of four degrees of homicide and included from reckless homicide to murder. Across the country, prominent celebrities and athletes demanded the most severe charge in Taylor’s case.

But, it was predicted earlier by attorneys that serious charges never would happen. The primary reason is, in Kentucky, there must be a defendant act for a murder conviction that intentionally comes as causing death. His conscious objective or murders objective should be to kill someone in other words. If they are willing to prove things like the wanton endangerment charges against officer Hankison such as punishable by one to five years in prison, the prosecutors should show that under the circumstances demonstration of extreme indifference for the value of human life. In other words, they should prove that officer wantonly participated in conduct that resulted in a substantial danger of severe physical injury or death to another person. Cameron also added that “One of the apartments where Hankison shot was occupied by a family of a couple and a young child.” There is a question now, “Was the case against Cosgrove and Mattingly was even presented to the grand jury?”

Brian Butler told, a former prosecutor said in a conversation with The Louisville Courier-Journal that, “The case against officer Hankison will be hard to prove other than reasonable evidence if exists to prove he opened fire immediately after the officer Mattingly was shot.” Butler said, “If the firing was instantaneous, he can argue that he fired in returning fire and defense. If the time elapsed, it is seriously harder for him to argue that the firing was defending the remaining police officers. Everything depends on how much time elapsed.” Even though charges were expected against the police officers, some of the lawyers said Cameron’s announcement, along with his refusal to reveal what prosecutors recommended him, now leaves troubling questions. Jan Waddell, Louisville attorney, said, “There is the possibility that no case ever presented against Cosgroveand  Mattingly to the grand jury of the Jefferson County.

He also noted that “Annie O’Connell, Jefferson Circuit Judge announced only Hankison was indicted. There was no true bill returned against the other two police officers. This can be customarily done as well, and the grand jury may have decided not to charge potential defendants.” A professor of criminal procedure, Les Abramson at the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law said, “There is an ‘absence of no true bill,’ and it suggests that the grand jury was not voted on whether he should indict Cosgrove and Mattingly. Elizabeth Kuhn, a spokeswoman for Cameron, was not ready to respond immediately when questions were raised about ‘no true bill.’ Cameron responded to reporters that “I am not ready to disclose even though he made a recommendation to the panel since there are secrecy rulesof the grand jury.” But in Jefferson County, commonwealth’s attorneys have disclosed everything in previous shootings. Mattingly and Cosgrove are not completely exonerated despite the decision.


Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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