Legal Experts Not Surprised by Breonna Taylor Results

Kentucky's strong self-defense laws made homicide charges unlikely, they say
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2020 12:34 PM CDT
Legal Experts Not Surprised by Breonna Taylor Results
Louisville police detain a man during a protest Wednesday.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Those hoping for murder charges against the police officers in the Breonna Taylor case took to the streets in cities across the US when no such charges were filed Wednesday. But the Louisville Courier Journal reports that many legal experts were not surprised. That's because of what the state attorney general calls Kentucky's "vigorous laws on self-defense." Taylor's boyfriend fired when the three officers broke down the apartment door, and when “a shot is fired by someone in the house, it is logical and pursuant to training that the officer or officers would return fire," a longtime Kentucky defense attorney tells the newspaper. Only one of the three officers is now facing charges, and they're not related to the shots that killed Taylor. Instead, officer Brett Hankison faces charges of "wanton endangerment" because bullets he fired went into a neighboring apartment.

Which doesn't make sense to those advocating for Taylor. “If Brett Hankison’s behavior was wanton endangerment to people in neighboring apartments, then it should have been wanton endangerment in Breonna Taylor’s apartment too,” tweeted attorney Ben Crump, who is representing her family. “In fact, it should have been ruled wanton murder!” The Washington Post reports that Hankison will likely say he fired to save the lives of his fellow officers. Timing will be key: "If it was nearly instantaneous, he could argue he was returning fire in defense of others," says a former prosecutor. "If time elapsed, it will be harder for him to argue that he was defending the other officers.” Meanwhile, two officers who were shot in protests in Louisville are recuperating. One was released with a leg wound and the other, shot in the abdomen, is out of surgery, per the AP. A suspect has been charged. (More Breonna Taylor stories.)

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