Louisville police officers involved in Breonna Taylor's fatal shooting could still face criminal charges following FBI's probe, reports said on Thursday. The charges against the cops are possible even after a Kentucky grand jury decided to clear them of murder charges in Taylor's shooting.
Former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison was the only cop to be indicted by the grand jury in the case, but those charges were not related to Taylor's death. The FBI has been conducting its separate investigation in the case and the agency was probing "all aspects."
"As we have indicated, our investigation is focusing on all aspects of Breonna Taylor's death," a spokesman for the FBI reportedly said. "Once our investigation is concluded, we will provide the collected facts to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to determine if federal criminal charges are warranted."
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician, died after white police officers opened fire at her apartment during a drug raid on March 13. She was in the apartment with boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who the police said fired first shot at the officers.
However, according to Walker's lawsuit, he did not hear the cops identify themselves and believing that they were intruders, he fired a single shot at them. Following this, the officers fired multiple shots — six of which struck Taylor.
Claims of 'no-knock' warrant being issued to the police department
The Louisville Metro Police Department had initially received court approval for a "no-knock warrant." However, the orders were changed to "knock and announce" before the narcotics raid was conducted.
On Wednesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron reiterated that the orders were changed and the officers were advised to "knock and announce their presence in serving this specific search warrant." He maintained that the cops indeed knocked and identify themselves and the account was supported a witness. In June, Louisville Metro Council unanimously passed "Breonna's Law" that banned the use of no-knock warrants.
The officers — Hankinson, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Detective Myles Cosgrove — were placed on administrative leave. However, Hankinson was fired in June for violating police department procedure by 'blindly' opening 10 shots.
Brett Hankison 'blindly' fired shots
In June, Louisville Police interim chief Robert Schroeder wrote a letter to Hankison detailing charges against him and said that his conduct was "a shock to the conscience" that "demands your termination." The police chief also noted that the bullets fired by Hankinson travelled into the apartment next to Taylor's, thus "endangering" three people's lives.
"I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion. ... In fact, the ten rounds you fired were into a patio door and window which were covered with material that completely prevented you from verifying any person as an immediate threat or more importantly any innocent persons present," Schroeder wrote, according to the Courier-Journal.
On Wednesday, the Kentucky grand jury indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment of Taylor's neigbors. The ex-officer could be sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment and his bond was set at $15,000. According to reports, Hankison is likely to enter a no guilty plea.
The grand jury cleared Sgt. Mattingly and Cosgrove in Taylor's shooting. According to the investigation, both the officers had opened fire at Taylor, but Cosgrove's bullet was believed to have killed Taylor. The verdict triggered massive protests in Kentucky and the rest of the country.