Breonna Taylor, a Black emergency medical technician, was shot at least five times in her Louisville apartment after white police officers Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove, and Jonathan Mattingly broke down her door on the evening of March 13, firing a total of 32 shots. Taylor died on her hallway floor.
A Kentucky grand jury declined to charge the officers over Taylor's death, it was announced yesterday, as CNN reports. Hankison faces one charge of wanton endangerment—for firing recklessly into a neighbor's apartment. Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron said the officers were "justified in their use of force" against Taylor, because her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one shot when their apartment door was broken down.
In short: Neither Hankison, Mattingly, nor Cosgrove—who fired the fatal shot—will face any charges for killing Breonna Taylor. Click here to find out how to demand justice, and support the protestors taking to the streets in her name.
A host of celebrities decried the verdict on social media Wednesday, calling for the officers to be charged with Taylor's death and condemning a racist justice system. Dwyane Wade shared a photo of Taylor on Instagram, alongside a moving letter to her. "Dear Breonna, I am so sorry the people in power have failed to get this right. You deserve so much more," he wrote. "Your life mattered. You were loved. You deserved the bright future that was ahead of you. It hurts me that we can’t tell you all of this now." He concluded, "We will continue to say your name. We will continue to fight in your name."
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Sharing a news post about the verdict, Viola Davis tweeted, "Bulls--- decision!!! BLACK LIVES MATTER!!! Cannot be said enough times."
Bulls--- decision!!! BLACK LIVES MATTER!!! Cannot be said enough times. https://t.co/HOrDQzHJ0dSeptember 23, 2020
Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris also responded to the verdict on Twitter. "Tonight, I’m thinking of Breonna Taylor’s family who is still grieving the loss of a daughter and sister," she wrote. "We must never stop speaking Breonna’s name as we work to reform our justice system, including overhauling no-knock warrants."
Tonight, I’m thinking of Breonna Taylor’s family who is still grieving the loss of a daughter and sister. We must never stop speaking Breonna’s name as we work to reform our justice system, including overhauling no-knock warrants.September 24, 2020
Journalist Nicholas Wu tweeted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's spoken response to the verdict, which Ocasio-Cortez subsequently retweeted. "it's just weighing really heavy on my heart, and because we know that her death is not just the result of one person but the system, structure, and department that failed their entire community," she said.
.@AOC was asked abt the #BreonnaTaylor decision. What she said (per Hill pool): "it's just weighing really heavy on my heart, and because we know that her death is not just the result of one person but the system, structure, and department that failed their entire community."September 23, 2020
"Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. This result is a disgrace and an abdication of justice," Bernie Sanders tweeted. "Our criminal justice system is racist. The time for fundamental change is now."
Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. This result is a disgrace and an abdication of justice. Our criminal justice system is racist. The time for fundamental change is now. https://t.co/IPmO9upXbKSeptember 23, 2020
"Daniel Cameron is on Donald Trump’s short list as replacement of #RGB on the Supreme Court. The same man who decided to not charge the officers responsible for killing #BreonnaTaylor. Vote," Kerry Washington tweeted.
Daniel Cameron is on Donald Trump’s short list as replacement of #RGB on the Supreme Court. The same man who decided to not charge the officers responsible for killing #BreonnaTaylor. Vote.September 23, 2020
Alicia Keys quote-tweeted the ACLU's response to the verdict, writing, "This is is a PRIME example of Rotten to the CORE!!! UnJust!!!! Disrespectful and BLATANT DISREGARD!!!! Infuriated!!!!!!!"
This is is a PRIME example of Rotten to the CORE!!! UnJust!!!! Disrespectful and BLATANT DISREGARD!!!! Infuriated!!!!!!! https://t.co/TWVeV8Q3rpSeptember 23, 2020
Yara Shahidi tweeted, "What is most insulting is that the recommended charges aren't even in response to the MURDER of Breonna Taylor, but to the POTENTIAL injury of other people in the apartment....." She continued in a subsequent tweet, "'No knock warrants' feels analogous to the experience of being Black in America ... The unsolicited intrusion of racism and violence dealt with on a daily basis ..."
Tracee Ellis Ross quoted an IGTV video by activist and writer Brittany Packnett Cunningham, posting alongside a photo of Taylor. "I feel at a loss with language right now, but please go to @mspackyetti’s page and watch her latest IGTV about #breonnataylor," Ross said. She quoted Packnett Cunningham thus: "Our spirits, I promise you, are bigger than the systems we face; and I promise you our purpose is greater than the oppression that tries to grab hold of us. Those systems, they may have stolen Breonna’s life but but they will never steal her light. That oppression may have taken her life but it will never steal her legacy because we will fight for that."
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Watch Packnett Cunningham's full video below.
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Demi Lovato reposted a viral tweet by @curlynaya on Instagram, noting that the Taylor verdict was delivered exactly 65 years after the torturers and murderers of Emmett Till, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were acquitted. "Breonna Taylor. Emmett Till," Lovato wrote. "We are still demanding justice for you. We will not stop fighting for you. I’m sick at what has transpired today. I was at a complete loss of words when I saw the breaking headlines today. We cannot continue this way. WAKE UP! #BlackLivesMatter."
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"God bless Breonna’s family and all who knew and loved her," Ava DuVernay wrote. "Her tragic death compounded by the violence of silence and inaction by the city she called home is more than any of them should have to endure.
God bless Breonna’s family and all who knew and loved her. Her tragic death compounded by the violence of silence and inaction by the city she called home is more than any of them should have to endure. https://t.co/fcDmIWHlDSSeptember 23, 2020
Schitt's Creek star Dan Levy encouraged his followers to donate to the Louisville Community Bail Fund to help bail out protestors. "Disgusted. Enraged. Heartbroken. Please contribute if you can. Justice should not be a luxury. #BreonnaTaylor," he tweeted.
Disgusted. Enraged. Heartbroken. Please contribute if you can. Justice should not be a luxury. #BreonnaTaylor https://t.co/SruISxW1WfSeptember 23, 2020
"I don’t have the words. #BreonnaTaylor and her family deserve justice," Mandy Moore posted.
I don’t have the words. #BreonnaTaylor and her family deserve justice. https://t.co/1Vu1zwetViSeptember 23, 2020
"No. Officers. Charged. In. The. Killing. Of. #BreonnaTaylor," Yvette Nicole Brown tweeted. "One. Was. Charged. For. Endangering. But. NOT. Killing. Her. Neighbors. #MakeMeWannaHollerAndThrowUpBothMyHands."
No. Officers. Charged. In. The. Killing. Of. #BreonnaTaylor. One. Was. Charged. For. Endangering. But. NOT. Killing. Her. Neighbors. #MakeMeWannaHollerAndThrowUpBothMyHands. https://t.co/1khlfDlBv7September 23, 2020
Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.
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