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Two officers shot in Louisville as protests grow, Trump refuses to commit to peaceful transfer of power

More than 200 retired generals, admirals endorsed Joe Biden in a letter published Thursday, including some who served under President Donald Trump.
Image: Police and protesters converge during a demonstration, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Louisville, Ky.
Police and protesters converge during a demonstration in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday. John Minchillo / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Violence broke out in Louisville, Kentucky, as disappointment turned to anger over the lack of charges in Breonna Taylor's death. President Donald Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election and mourners lined up to say good-bye to the "Notorious RBG."

Here's what we're watching this Thursday morning.

Two officers shot during Louisville protests over charges Breonna Taylor case

Two police officers were shot Wednesday night during protests in Louisville, Kentucky, that erupted after a grand jury’s decision not to charge the officer who shot and killed Breonna Taylor. Only one officer was indicted on a charge of wanton endangerment.

About a half-hour before the city's 9 p.m. curfew, two Louisville Metro police officers were shot while responding to a report of a large crowd and gunfire, interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder told a news conference.

They were taken to Louisville University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. A suspect was in custody, Schroeder said.

Shortly after the grand jury's decision was announced Wednesday, demonstrators took to the streets of Louisville protesting Taylor's killing and the limited charges brought against only one of the officers involved.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed in her home on March 13, after police officers with a no-knock warrant broke down her door seeking evidence in a narcotics investigation. The target of the probe did not live at the location.

Former police Detective Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment connected with the shooting that ended in Taylor's killing. Detective Myles Cosgrove, the officer whose shot killed Taylor, was not charged.

For many of Taylor's supporters who had put faith in the justice system, the grand jury decision was incredibly disappointing.

"It just seems as though to hold this community hostage, to drag us through this months on end and then to come back with those charges ... To me, it's incredibly offensive, disrespectful and more than that, it speaks to a much larger issue of policing in this country," said Timothy Findley Jr., a local pastor.

Kentucky's top prosecutor, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, has come under fire after no direct charges were filed in Taylor's death.

"People are not happy at this point," said Dewey Clayton, a political science professor at the University of Louisville. "There's a lot of anger and frustration and sadness. People feel like they have not gotten justice."

Trump won’t commit to peaceful transfer of power if he loses to Biden

President Donald Trump was asked Wednesday whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose this fall to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The president declined to do so.

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," Trump said. "You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster."

Trump has repeatedly assailed mail-in voting as widely fraudulent and called it a "scam" by Democrats, but he and his campaign have released no evidence to prove it.

There is expected to be a large uptick in voting by mail this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, Trump also reiterated his desire to have the next Supreme Court justice confirmed ahead of the election so the high court could rule on the contest.

"I think this will end up in the Supreme Court, and I think it's very important that we have nine justices," Trump said at the White House.

Meantime, more than 200 retired generals and admirals endorsed Joe Biden for president in a letter published Thursday, including some who served under Trump.

By law, military service members must remain apolitical while in uniform, but most senior officers stay out of the political arena even after they hang up their uniforms. Thursday's letter was notable for the sheer number of top brass from every branch of the military who chose to endorse Biden.

"We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it," the group of signatories that featured 22 retired four-star military officers wrote.

"The current President has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small," the letter says.

Secret, powerful panels will pick Covid-19 vaccine winners. Can they be trusted?

Most Americans have never heard of Dr. Richard Whitley, an expert in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Yet as the coronavirus pandemic drags on and the public eagerly awaits a vaccine, he may well be among the most powerful people in the country.

Whitley leads a small, secret panel of experts tasked with reviewing crucial data on the safety and effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines that U.S. taxpayers have helped fund.

Data and safety monitoring boards work under a cloak of secrecy meant to prevent undue influence. In the Trump era, some worry the anonymity could actually invite it.

'Thank you RBG': Mourners pay respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Mourners spanning multiple generations gathered Wednesday to honor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a feminist icon who garnered a devoted following of admirers, as she was honored at the Supreme Court.

Many were women and young girls. Ginsburg became a role model after she broke down gender barriers and promoted equality throughout her life.

Some people wore masks that said "vote," while others wore shirts that said, "Notorious RBG," with an illustration of Ginsburg in a crown, a reference to the '90s gangsta rapper the Notorious B.I.G.

The public are invited to pay their respects again today under the portico on the top of the front steps to the Supreme Court building between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. President Trump will also pay his respects there today.

On Friday, Ginsburg’s casket will be moved to the U.S. Capitol building for another ceremony, and she will be the first woman to ever lie in state. A private interment service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery next week, the court said.

See images of mourners honoring Ginsburg at the Supreme Court

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THINK about it

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Quote of the day

"It has been said that Ruth wanted to be an opera virtuoso, but became a rock star instead."

Chief Justice John Roberts said in his eulogy to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Wednesday.

One proud parent thing

Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade are celebrating their "wildly inspiring" transgender daughter after being selected as part of TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020 list.

The retired NBA superstar and actress spoke about their 13-year old daughter Zaya in a video accompanying the story.

Praising the freedom they see in all their children, they singled out the independence of Zaya, who was born a boy.

"We have another daughter who is 13 who has the freedom to be exactly who she is, who she was born to be, to be her most authentic self," Union said in the video. "She doesn't ask permission to exist. That is wildly inspiring."

The family's embrace of their transgender child has won praise from the LGBTQ+ community.

"We stand as allies with the LGBTQ+ community as proud parents of a transgender child," Wade has said. "Our daughter Zaya is leading us in our journey, and we’re doing all we can to give every one of our kids the ability to live their truth."Andrew Toth / Getty Images file

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Thanks, Petra