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Breonna Taylor's supporters disappointed only 1 of the officers involved was charged

"I think that it’s shameful that it’s taken this long," Timothy Findley Jr., a local pastor, said. "It’s a heart-wrenching ordeal."
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Even before a Kentucky grand jury indicted a former Louisville police officer Wednesday on charges of wanton endangerment during a botched drug raid that led to the death of Breonna Taylor in March, Timothy Findley Jr. was not optimistic.

"I’m holding out hope, but that is not based on a track record in this country that the right thing is going to happen," Findley, a senior pastor at the Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center, said in a telephone interview Wednesday morning.

Findley, like many other Louisville residents, was on edge.

"I don’t think I’ve ever felt the level of anxiety and pressure as I do in this moment," Findley, who is Black, said.

Image: FILE PHOTO: Businesses are boarded up in anticipation of protests in Louisville
A woman visits the memorial for Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 11, 2020.Bryan Woolston / Reuters file

After the announcement that former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison had been charged with three counts of wanton endangerment and his bond had been set at $15,000 full cash six months after Taylor's death, that pressure turned to pain. The charges accuse Hankison of firing blindly into a neighboring apartment. No charges were announced against the other two officers who fired shots, including the detective who authorities said fired the shot that killed Taylor.

"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, that bond and that result, to me, it's incredibly offensive, disrespectful and more than that, it speaks to a much larger issue of policing in this country," Findley said.

He said he was devastated that no one was charged for causing Taylor's death.

The civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, one of three lawyers representing Breonna Taylor's family, expressed similar frustration and tweeted that the charges involved "NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor." He said it was "outrageous and offensive."

Findley watched Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's news conference from Jefferson Square Park, where protests over Taylor's death have been held. The news conference took place after the grand jury's decision was announced.

Taylor, a Black emergency medical technician, was shot multiple times by officers who entered her home using a warrant during a narcotics investigation March 13. The probe involved her ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, a convicted drug dealer, who authorities said had listed her apartment as his address and used it to receive packages.

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly was shot in the thigh by Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, a licensed gun owner, who said he mistook police for an intruder. The use of no-knock warrants has since been banned in Louisville. Walker has said police did not identify themselves. Police said they did.

Cameron said Wednesday that the grand jury investigation confirmed officers "knocked and identified themselves" before entering Taylor's apartment and that they did not use a no-knock warrant. He said one neighbor reported hearing police identify themselves. The New York Times reported in August that it interviewed nearly a dozen neighbors, and only one person said he heard the officers identify themselves by yelling "police" a single time. Cameron also said that Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove's use of force was protected by Kentucky law because they did not fire first, though he said Cosgrove's shot killed Taylor.

“This justification," he said, "bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Ms. Breonna Taylor’s death."

Cameron, a Republican, acknowledged the announcement would be disappointing to some.

"I know that not everyone will be satisfied with the charges we've reported today," he said. "My job is to present the facts to the grand jury, and the grand jury then applies those facts to the law."

"If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice," he added. "Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge."

The Louisville Metro Police Department placed barricades around Jefferson Square Park and the perimeter of the downtown area Tuesday, the same day Mayor Greg Fischer declared a state of emergency due to the potential for civil unrest as the city awaited the grand jury's announcement.

Earlier Wednesday, Fischer said he would institute a countywide 72-hour curfew from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and that the National Guard had been activated ahead of the decision.

Findley said the curfew was an insult to supporters of Taylor and appeared to be an attempt at silencing critics.

"It just proves that as it seems now, Black lives don't matter in Louisville," he said.

Findley, 41, has attended dozens of protests, some of which he organized, calling for Mattingly, Cosgrove and Hankison who was fired in June, to be indicted. Hankison's termination letter said that he showed "an extreme indifference to the value of human life."

On Friday, Findley was among the protesters to demonstrate with Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, outside Cameron's office. The protest was organized by Taylor's family and the social justice organization Until Freedom, which has called for charges to be brought in the case.

Palmer, who reached a record $12 million civil settlement with the city last Tuesday, delivered an emotional speech Friday.

"Daniel, just do your job," she said through tears. "It's just that simple. It was that simple six months ago."

Findley said it should not have taken more than six months for a decision to be made about whether to indict the officers.

"I think that it’s shameful that it’s taken this long," he said. "And just to see and hear how people are being traumatized by this moment. It’s a heart-wrenching ordeal."

Sam Aguiar, one of the lawyers for Taylor's family, had said it "should've been an easy indictment."

"It's not a damn trial and it's completely controlled by the prosecutor," Aguiar said Tuesday.

After the charges were announced, Linda Sarsour, co-founder of Until Freedom, said justice had not been served and called Cameron a coward.

Even as he struggled to communicate his disappointment, Findley said he felt motivated to make his voice heard by voting.

"We need to replace all of the suits in this city from the top down and expose people to how these individuals have not supported community in this moment," he said after Cameron's decision.

Findley said he had an inkling Mattingly and Cosgrove might not face charges after Mattingly sent an email to his colleagues Tuesday morning in which he defended his actions and rebuked Fischer, Public Safety Chief Amy Hess and former Louisville Metro police Chief Steve Conrad, saying they "failed all of us in epic proportions for their own gain and to cover their asses."

"I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night," Mattingly wrote in the email.

Findley said he believes the email indicated Mattingly was confident he would not be indicted.

"What I took from it was it seems as though in his mind, there is a 'we versus them' mentality," Findley said. "And that, to me, is fundamentally why policing in this country needs to be not just reformed but reimagined."