PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — A few hundred protesters gathered in Center City Wednesday, upset after a Kentucky grand jury decided not to indict three police officers for the shooting death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. One officer was charged with wanton endangerment for shooting into a neighbor’s apartment.
“When black lives are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” one protester said.
“We protested months ago. We’re protesting now and we have yet to see any real systematic change,” said another.
A few dozen protestors marched to city hall this evening after the Breonna Taylor decision came down. #BreonnaTaylor pic.twitter.com/ONM0LaiVYD
— Greg Argos (@GregArgosCBS3) September 23, 2020
This protester says he wants to see the Philadelphia police budget slashed.
“The so-called defunding of the police here proposed by City Hall, was just not giving them more money in the next year’s budget instead of actually taking money away,” he said.
Most of the evening’s protest took place on Market Street near City Hall.
“I feel like it’s empowering to know you’re not the only one who feels this way. You’re not the only one who wants their voice to be heard. There is power in numbers,” one protester said.
The crowd and that power then marched down Broad Street, zig-zagging through Center City, stopping traffic and making sure that voice and message was heard loud and clear.
“These are real people’s lives. These are not just names that are getting written down, these are actual people who are losing their lives because of the system that we have been under for too long,” one protester said.
Throughout the evening, CBS3 did not see any acts of violence or any arrests.
Ahead of the protest, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney released a statement as the city braced for protests.
“I know that many Philadelphians are feeling disappointed, frustrated, and even outraged, following today’s announcement by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “The City of Philadelphia fully supports the First Amendment rights of our residents, but we also want to ensure that any demonstration activity that happens is done in a safe, lawful manner. We are not aware of any specific threats of violence or looting, but we are sharing guidance to help businesses be prepared in case the situation escalates.”
The protest comes after Kentucky grand jury indicted a single former police officer for shooting into neighboring apartments but did not move forward with charges against any officers for their role in Taylor’s death.
The jury announced that fired Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid of Taylor’s home on the night of March 13.
Immediately after the announcement, people were expressing frustration that the grand jury did not do more.
“Justice has NOT been served,” tweeted Linda Sarsour of Until Freedom, a group that has pushed for charges in the case. “Rise UP. All across this country. Everywhere. Rise up for #BreonnaTaylor.”
Justice has NOT been served.
Rise UP. All across this country. Everywhere. Rise up for #BreonnaTaylor
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) September 23, 2020
Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Taylor’s family, tweeted that the charges involved “NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor. This is outrageous and offensive!”
Jefferson County Grand Jury indicts former ofc. Brett Hankison with 3 counts of Wanton Endangerment in 1st Degree for bullets that went into other apartments but NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor. This is outrageous and offensive! pic.twitter.com/EarmBAhhuf
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 23, 2020
At a news conference, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Hankison and the two other officers who entered Taylor’s apartment announced themselves before entering the apartment and did not use a no-knock warrant.
“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by (Officers Jonathan Mattingly and (Myles) Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves. This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”
Regarding the inevitable disappointment by those who wanted criminal charges brought in Taylor’s death, he remarked, “The decision before my office as the special prosecutor in this case was not to decide if the loss of Ms. Taylor’s life was a tragedy. The answer to that is unequivocally yes.”
Cameron added that, “I understand that Breonna Taylor’s death is part of a national story, but the facts and evidence in this case are different than others” involving police shootings.
“If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice,” Cameron said. “Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”
He added that the FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in the case.
A Republican, Cameron is the state’s first Black state attorney general and a protege of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who has been tagged by some as his heir apparent. His was also one of 20 names on President Donald Trump’s list to fill a future Supreme Court vacancy.
Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by officers who entered her home using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. The warrant used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside. The use of no-knock warrants has since been banned by Louisville’s Metro Council.
Cameron’s office had been receiving materials from the Louisville Police Department’s public integrity unit while they tried to determine whether state charges would be brought against the three officers involved, he said.
Before charges were brought, Hankison was fired from the city’s police department on June 23. A termination letter sent to him by interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said the white officer had violated procedures by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” shot 10 rounds of gunfire into Taylor’s apartment in March.
Hankison, Sgt. Johnathan Mattingly, Officer Myles Cosgrove and the detective who sought the warrant, Joshua Jaynes, were placed on administrative reassignment after the shooting.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, hitting Mattingly. Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but prosecutors later dropped the charge.
Walker told police he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defense.
On Sept. 15, the city settled a lawsuit against the three officers brought by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, agreeing to pay her $12 million and enact police reforms.
Protesters in Louisville and across the country have demanded justice for Taylor and other Black people killed by police in recent months. The release in late May of a 911 call by Taylor’s boyfriend marked the beginning of days of protests in Louisville, fueled by her shooting and the violent death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
Several prominent African American celebrities including Oprah and Beyoncé have joined those urging that the officers be charged.
CBS3’s Greg Argos contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)