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One police officer has been charged in Breonna Taylor's case. But not for her death.

It has been nearly 200 days since police woke Breonna Taylor and her partner by ramming down their front door, shortly before 1a.m. on March 13, 2020.

According to The Louisville Courier Journal, authorities were investigating two men who they believed were selling drugs out of a house far away from her Louisville, Kentucky home, but they'd been approved a warrant to search Breonna's house too, as they believed that one of the men had used her apartment to receive packages.

The judge's order was a "no-knock" warrant, allowing police to enter the property without warning and without identifying themselves as law enforcement. They reportedly drove unmarked vehicles.

Within minutes of them entering her home that night, 26-year-old Breonna was dead.

For seven months, activists, protestors and Breonna's family have called for the police involved in the incident - Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly - to be arrested.

On Wednesday, September 23 (Thursday AEST), Hankison was charged.

But not for Breonna's death.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced the Louisville grand jury's decision at a news conference as protesters against racial injustice and police brutality massed on city streets.

WATCH: Protests have begun across the country in reaction.


Video via Twitter, https://twitter.com/arleeonair/status/1308906056769318914?s=20

Cosgrove and Mattingly will face no charges because 'their use of force was justified' but Hankison will be charged with the wanton endangerment of her neighbours, the state attorney general said.

Former Detective Brett Hankison's indictment for wanton endangerment in the first degree represents the lowest level of felony crime in Kentucky and carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

Benjamin Crump, a civil rights lawyer representing the Taylor family, said it was "outrageous" that none of the officers would be criminally charged for Taylor's death.

"Somebody shot my girlfriend."

After they forcefully entered the home, Police said Breonna's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a gun first, wounding an officer in the leg. Kenneth said that he believed someone was breaking into the home and acted in self-defence.

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In return, police shot more than 20 rounds into the home. Kenneth was injured by gunfire, and Breonna was shot eight times by officers before being pronounced dead at the scene.

Neither Breonna nor Kenneth had any criminal background. No drugs were found, and Kenneth was charged with the attempted murder of a police officer, though that has since been dropped.

The officers involved in the raid were not wearing body cameras, and claimed that although they had a "no-knock warrant" they had knocked several times and announced their presence; although neighbours said they did not hear authorities do so.

Image: Facebook.

 

The attorney representing Breonna's family released audio of a 911 call placed by Kenneth following the shooting to the Courier Journal.

"I don't know what's happening - somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend," a distraught, sobbing Kenneth tells the dispatcher in the more than two-minute-long call.

He is heard shouting for help, and no communication from police can be heard in the background.

To many, already outraged at Breonna's death and as tensions flared across America following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in police custody, the call was proof that Kenneth did not know it was the police who entered the apartment that night, something lawyers for the family have said since it happened.

"He didn't know these were police officers, and they found no drugs in the apartment. None," said Kenneth's lawyer, Rob Eggert, the New York Times reported. "He was scared for his life, and her life."

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Subsequently, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced Louisville Metro Police Department would suspend the use of no-knock warrants until further notice.

"These changes and more to come - we're not done - should signal that I hear the community and we will continue to make improvements anywhere that we can," he said.

"Breonna Taylor's name and her story will now be part of our history."

The FBI is continuing the investigate, even after the grand jury decision to charge only Hankison.

The families of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are asking for a congressional hearing and the creation of a national task force that would create bipartisan legislation aimed at ending racial violence and increasing police accountability.

"She was in her own home."

Like Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, Breonna was unarmed and black.

"They're killing our sisters just like they're killing our brothers, but for whatever reason, we have not given our sisters the same attention that we have given to Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Stephon Clark, Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald," attorney Benjamin Crump, who is also representing the families of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, told the Washington Post. 

"Breonna's name should be known by everybody in America who said those other names, because she was in her own home, doing absolutely nothing wrong."

Her death escaped major public focus for weeks, overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic which took up so much of the public consciousness.

Then on May 15, Breonna's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

In September, the city of Louisville agreed to pay US$12 to her family and institute sweeping police reforms in a settlement.

"Justice for Breonna means that we will continue to save lives in her honour," said Tamika Palmer, Taylor's mother. 

"No amount of money accomplishes that, but the police reform measures that we were able to get passed as a part of this settlement mean so much more to my family, our community, and to Breonna's legacy."

"This is outrageous and offensive."

The charge against former officer Hankison of wanton endangerment in the first degree for bullets that went into neighbouring apartments has been slammed by activists and supporters.

Crump tweeted "If Brett Hankison's behaviour was wanton endangerment to people in neighbouring apartments, then it should have been wanton endangerment in Breonna Taylor's apartment too."

He called the charge "outrageous and offensive".

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"She had plans."

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Breonna's mother will never get to see her daughter fulfil her "plans".

"I'm not sure that they understand what they took from my family," Tamika said. "Not just me, but my family. This has affected so many of us, so many of her friends."

"Breonna did everything right. She always wanted to do anything that would help her be a better friend, a daughter, a girlfriend." Image: Instagram.

Breonna worked as an EMT for hospitals in her area, but she had dreams to help her community even further.

"She had plans, and she was following those plans accordingly," Tamika told the Courier-Journal.

"She had a whole plan on becoming a nurse and buying a house and then starting a family. Breonna had her head on straight, and she was a very decent person. She didn't deserve this."

Now her family are coming together to celebrate a life that would've been full of greatness and love.

"I just think she was destined to be great. Breonna just loved life, and people gravitated towards her. She lit up a room and had this aura about herself," Tamika said.

"She should definitely be here. What happened to her should never happen to anybody. We want justice."






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The last time I spoke to Breonna Taylor’s mom, Tamika Palmer, she was having a particularly bad day dealing with the loss of her daughter. She told me, “I can’t stop seeing her face. Her smile. It’s what I miss most about her…I’m still waiting for her to come through the door.” Everybody who’s lost a loved one knows that feeling. For every mother and father whose child is out in the world right now, imagine getting a call in the middle of the night that your daughter has been shot in her apartment. And then you find out the people who killed her were police officers who should never have been there in the first place. What would you want to happen now? Would you be content to hear five months later “there’s an investigation”? And that no one has been held accountable for shooting your innocent daughter multiple times and letting her life bleed out? If not for the coronavirus, I’d be out in the streets marching with the Black Lives Matter protesters. These 26 billboards, one for every year of Breonna’s life, are my offering. My form of protest. We cannot be silent. We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice. @oprahmagazine

A post shared by  Oprah (@oprah) on

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Vanity Fair and O Magazine have been among the publications determined to keep Breonna's name trending.

A painting of her by Amy Sherald, best known for painting Michelle Obama's official portrait, appears on Vanity Fair's September cover.

"Breonna is like the family glue- even at 26 years old, she is pretty much the glue. And she is bossy. She don’t care what is happening, she is going to make sure we get together and have a game night or have a cookout or have something, because we all tend to get so busy and consumed with work and whatever," Tamika told Vanity Fair.

"But she has a personal relationship with everybody, even all my little cousins. They don’t call each other cousins. They all call each other sisters and brothers. All the kids, the younger kids, or even the kids her age, looked up to Breonna.

"And my dad stops turning on the television. Breonna was his first granddaughter. To see what happened, to hear what happened, it breaks his heart and he can’t stand it. And [Breonna's sister] Juniyah is depressed. She is just going through the motions. Because she’s used to seeing Breonna every day, and arguing with Breonna every other day."

On July 30, for the first time in 20 years, Oprah Winfrey did not appear on the cover of her O: The Oprah Magazine, which instead featured a digital portrait of Breonna drawn by artist Alexis Franklin.

In an essay, Oprah said she thought about Breonna often.

"What I know for sure: We can't be silent," she said. "We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice."

For more information about Breonna Taylor and to sign the petition for justice, visit standwithbre.com.

This story was originally published in June and has been in August, and September 24

Feature image: Instagram.

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