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Louisville officer, Brett Hankinson has been charged with reckless endangerment for the killing of Ethnic American EMT Breonna Taylor on March 13. The other two officers who were present, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly were not charged with anything.

Under Kentucky law, reckless endangerment is a Class D felony and is defined as:

508.060 Wanton endangerment in the first degree.

(1) A person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under

circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he

wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious

physical injury to another person.

(2) Wanton endangerment in the first degree is a Class D felony.

Effective: January 1, 1975

History: Created 1974 Ky. Acts ch. 406, sec. 70, effective January 1, 1975

The felony is punishable with up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine which is a lot of money for people who live in Kentucky. The Kentucky minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, less than half what it is in California. The average cost of apartments in Louisville is only $950 a month but it is less than that outside of the Louisville, Kentucky's most densely populated city. Whites make up 88% (at 4 million) of the state's population while Blacks make up 7% (at 350,000). The state has less than 80,000 Hispanics, all of whom immigrated to the state after the turn of the century or less than 20 years ago.

While the jury found he had not intentionally killed Taylor, it found he acted with absolute disregard for her life as well as everyone else’s life including those of his fellow officers.

Hankinson was also charged on three additional charges of felony reckless endangerment because some of his bullets went through walls into other apartments.

Bond for Hankinson has been set at $15,000 which might seem unfair to people outside of Kentucky until they find out that many in the state actually make less than that.

Taylor was killed after Hankinson led the other officers on a carrying out a no knock warrant. According to the officers on the scene and some of the neighbors, Hankinson didn’t knock on the door and instead just broke it down and began shooting inside. The officers were at the building as part of a narcotics investigation but the person who was alleged to have been involved in the narcotics trafficking didn’t even live at the location. But they also said that Taylor’s boyfriend who was at the scene fired the first shot as soon as the officers broke the door down because he thought it was home invasion due to the officers not announcing themselves or give Taylor a chance to open the door for them.

Accordingly to the witnesses however, the officers did knock but there was no answer and when the officers entered the apartment, Mattingly was holding a gun and fired at the first people he saw which happened to be Taylor and her boyfriend. But Hankinson was the first to open fire during the incident, firing his gun as he entered the apartment.

Interestingly, the FBI says its own investigation found the lethal shot that was killed Taylor came from Cosgrove’s gun, not Hankinson’s. But the FBI found the use of force was justified under the circumstances at the time because Kenneth Walker, Breonna’s boyfriend had shot at them.

Hankinson was not fired until June for the reckless endangerment of lives in the incident according to his termination letter from the Louisville Police Department. That will prevent him from working with 95% of the other law enforcement agencies in the US since most departments take termination letters into account when hiring officers who used to work in other jurisdictions.

The other two officers were placed on administrative leave. Another who was placed on leave was Detective Joshue Jaynes who was the person who applied for the warrant under which the raid was carried out. The investigation into the officers is still pending. One of them, Mattingly insists that officers did knock and announce themselves. The address was listed on the warrant because one of Taylor’s ex boyfriends had been using it as a location to sell narcotics as well as to store them.

According to the FBI, Kenneth Walker admitted he did hear someone knocking on the door but that didn’t hear anyone say “police”. He told the FBI that he and Taylor asked who it was and when they didn’t hear a response he pulled his gun out.

Apparently the officers had left and then returned with a battering ram with which they knocked the door down. A lawsuit by Breonna Taylor’s mother also accuses the officers of reckless endangerment that resulted in her daughter’s death saying they ran into the apartment firing blindly in all directions. Louisville settled that case for $12 million. It was opposed by the police union and the city as part of the agreement did not admit any wrong doing on its part.

Some mainstream outlets are pointing out that while Taylor was killed in March, her case didn’t get any attention even from the Black community until the George Floyd protests got started in June.

The state of Kentucky has deployed armed national guard troops to the streets of the state’s major cities and has imposed a dusk to dawn curfew with violators subject to either arrest or being shot on site if soldiers think they are holding anything that could be used as a weapon.

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