Despite the grand jury’s ruling, this is far from over Thursday, Oct 8 2020 

By Catherine Brown-

A grand jury convened to determine whether LMPD officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove would be under indictment for the murder of Breonna Taylor. On Sept. 23, the jury charged only one officer, Hankison, with three counts of wanton endangerment.

This means that the officer is accused of endangering Taylor’s neighbors when he shot into the surrounding apartment walls. No officer was charged for killing Taylor, an innocent black woman who was asleep in her bedroom.

The protests following her death have made an impact on some policy. Since protests have started, we’ve seen progress in getting justice for Breonna Taylor and for the Black community of Louisville.

Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, tweeted a list of impacts that protests have made in Louisville.

In this list, she includes the exiting of former Police Chief Robert Schroeder, who was replaced by interim Police Chief Yvette Gentry. Gentry is the first black female police chief for the LMPD, a point which Reynolds notes in her list.

“I know some want total defunding but whatever exists in this country should include us,” Reynolds said.

She also lists that LMPD is receiving a top to bottom review, and body cameras are now mandatory for search warrants.

Additionally, social programs are being implemented for the west end. These programs will build 100 homes in the west end for Black homeowners. Reynolds says corporations are even donating gifts to support rebuilding in the area. Social workers are also becoming involved in family resettlement.

These are just a few of the progressions made for the local community.

Kentucky State Representative Attica Scott and her daughter Ashanti, a political science major at U of L, were arrested after demonstrating in a Breonna Taylor protest on Sept. 24. Scott recently introduced “Breonna’s Law,” which seeks to ban no-knock warrants in Kentucky.

The two were participating in the protest and were seeking sanctuary at the First Unitarian Church, a church in downtown Louisville that was open after curfew. Houses of worship were exempt from the curfew policy.

Scott said she was arrested at 8:58 p.m., curfew started at 9 p.m.

“There was never a need for no-knock search warrants like the one used in Breonna’s case, and while this type of warrant is now banned here in Metro Louisville and appears to have little use elsewhere, I want to make sure statewide law keeps it from ever coming back. In addition, I want to make sure a judge specifically approves any use of violent entry when a warrant is carried out, and I want all law enforcement officers to have to wear body cameras and be required to use them when serving any warrant.”

In the law, she states videos would have to be made available when complaints are filed. Those that violate these requirements will face suspension or even termination. She always wants law enforcement officers to undergo a drug and alcohol screening after a deadly incident or firing a weapon while on duty.

We have quite a long way to go until justice is ever met though. Hankison was only in jail for a little more than half an hour. Due to the double jeopardy defense, he will not be brought back to trial for re-sentencing on the same charge as before. But the public understands that the murder of a black woman not only in Louisville, but anywhere in the world, will not be tolerated nor will we forget the crime.

Breonna deserves justice. Don’t stop saying her name and continue fighting.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

The post Despite the grand jury’s ruling, this is far from over appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Retiring Louisville Police Chief Faces Council Questions On Protest Response Monday, Sep 28 2020 

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In about four hours of open testimony to the Metro Councils government oversight committee, outgoing Interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder painted a picture of stress and confusion that marked his brief tenure at the top of the department.

Schroeder, who has avoided speaking publicly to council under oath since early August, conceded Monday after an appeals court denial earlier in the day. Last week, a circuit court judge ruled he could have been held in contempt if he did not testify by Monday. He is set to retire Thursday.

Committee members say they intend to focus future investigative efforts on the shooting deaths of Breonna Taylor, killed by police, and David McAtee, killed by members of the National Guard. For now, the committee is focusing on the official response to protests following the deaths of Taylor and McAtee. After Schroeder retires, it is unlikely he will return since committee subpoenas may only apply to active city employees.


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LMPD Interim Chief Robert Schroeder To Retire Monday, Sep 7 2020 

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City officials announced Monday that Robert Schroeder, the interim chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department, is retiring from the force on October 1. He will be replaced by Yvette Gentry, a former deputy chief of police who currently works in the nonprofit sector. Gentry will be the first Black woman to lead LMPD in the departments history, taking over at a time when the city is facing pressure for police accountability and racial justice.

Schroeder is one of two Metro officials subpoenaed last month by the Metro Council’s government oversight committee as part of its investigation into Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration related to the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor, as well as the response to ongoing racial justice protests that followed that incident. A judge granted a temporary restraining order last month after city officials sued the council to delay open testimony in that investigation.

It is unclear whether a council subpoena could apply to a former government employee.


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LMPD Firing Brett Hankison, One Of Three Officers In Breonna Taylor Shooting Friday, Jun 19 2020 

Mayor Greg Fischer announced Friday morning that Brett Hankison is getting fired after the chief found he “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he shot 10 rounds in Breonna Taylor’s apartment.

Kate Howard | wfpl.org

Hankison was one of three officers who has been on paid administrative leave since the March 13 shooting, when Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed by plainclothes LMPD officers while they were executing a search warrant.

Until Friday, city officials have said action couldn’t be taken against the officers who killed Breonna Taylor until investigations were complete. But on Friday, Fischer said interim chief Robert Schroeder is initiating termination proceedings.

Read Schroeder’s pre-termination letter here.

Fischer said he and the chief couldn’t discuss the decision. But the LMPD immediately released the pre-termination letter Schroeder sent to Hankison Friday, saying he was being terminated for blindly fired 10 rounds in Taylor’s apartment, creating a “substantial danger of death and serious injury” to Taylor and her neighbors. The letter doesn’t directly address whether any of Hankison’s gunshots hit Taylor.

Hankison’s conduct “has severely damaged the image of our department we have established with our community,” Schroeder wrote in the letter.

Kate Howard | wfpl.org

Sam Aguiar, one of the Taylor family’s lawyers, told WDRB “it’s about time.”

“I hope to God he’s never back working our streets again,” Aguiar told WDRB.

Hankison was one of three officers who served the warrant at Taylor’s house and one of at least two who fired weapons. No announcements were made about the other two officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove, who are still on administrative paid leave.

Mattingly was shot in the leg by a bullet fired by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Walker was initially charged with attempted murder and assault, but Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine announced in late May he was dropping the charges, pending further investigation by the FBI and Kentucky Attorney General’s office.

Fischer Said He Can’t Talk About Firing

Fischer blamed state law in saying he couldn’t elaborate or take any questions from the media during the briefing, which lasted less than a minute.

“Both the chief and I are precluded from talking about what brought us to that moment,” Fischer said.

He referred questions about that to county attorney Mike O’Connell. O’Connell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The law Fischer cited states that, when a police officer has been charged with violating departmental rules or regulations, “no public statements shall be made concerning the alleged violation by any person or persons of the consolidated local government or the police officer so charged, until final disposition of the charges.”

Last week, Fischer announced that a task force would investigate two women’s claims of sexual assault against Hankison. Those allegations weren’t mentioned in the letter.

What Happens Next?

In the letter to Hankison, Schoeder said he received the file from the Public Integrity Unit’s investigation on June 16 and found that he violated procedures governing obedience to rules and regulations and use of deadly force. According to the letter, Hankison fired into a covered area, where he couldn’t have verified whether anyone was an innocent person present or even posted a threat.

Hankison will be given the opportunity to meet with the chief, along with a union representative or lawyer, and provide any additional information or mitigating factors, the letter said. The date and time of that meeting are redacted.

Ryan Nichols, the president of the River City Fraternal Order of Police, declined to comment on Hankison’s termination. He said he was unaware of the chief’s decision until his saw it on the news.

Under state law, Hankison is allowed to appeal his firing. He has a 10-day window to submit a written notice to the police chief and the Louisville Metro Police Merit Board of his intention to appeal any disciplinary action taken against him. He also has the right to have an attorney present for the hearing, and to present evidence and confront any accusers.

The merit board can overturn disciplinary actions handed down by the police chief. Hankison himself was an elected representative for the FOP on the merit board, a role Fischer recently called on the FOP to terminate.

The board’s rulings can be appealed to the Circuit Court within thirty days.

Meanwhile, the FBI and the Kentucky Attorney General’s office are still investigating the events that led to Taylor’s death. On Friday, the FBI was at Taylor’s apartment on Springfield Drive “conducting judicially authorized activity.”

This story has been updated. Jacob Ryan contributed to this report.

Under New LMPD Policy, Officers Have ‘Duty To Intervene’ In Cases Of Excessive Force Thursday, Jun 18 2020 

Louisville Metro Police Interim Chief Robert Schroeder said the LMPD will implement a policy change emphasizing an officer’s duty to intervene in the event he or she sees a fellow officer using excessive force.

“That’s not who we are as police officers,” Schroeder said.

In announcing the new policy, Schroeder invoked the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for about eight minutes while other officers stood by.

He said officers will now be expected to intervene verbally or physically, particularly in a case like Floyd’s. Schroeder said failure to intervene would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether an officer would be disciplined.

Kate Howard | wfpl.org

At the press conference, Mayor Greg Fischer reiterated a number of changes that have come recently to the LMPD: chief among them, no-knock warrants were suspended by LMPD and then banned by Louisville Metro Council, and all officers are now required to wear body cameras while executing search warrants.

Fischer also responded to Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s press conference earlier in the day, when Cameron referred to incremental material he was receiving from LMPD for the AG’s independent investigation into Breonna Taylor’s shooting death.

Fischer said Cameron’s office received a “substantially complete” file four weeks and 1 day ago, and that any incremental information coming to him right now is information he’s requesting.

Taylor was 26 when she was killed on March 13 by plainclothes LMPD officers executing a no-knock search warrant at her home.

Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot that struck an officer in the leg, according to police. Walker said he believed they were getting robbed. The officers returned fire and killed Taylor.

LMPD Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, and officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, have been on paid leave since the shooting.

Walker was arrested and charged with attempted murder and assault. But Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine announced in May that he would drop the charges, pending further investigation by the FBI and Kentucky Attorney General’s office.