A grand jury indictment connected to the fatal shooting of a 26-year-old ambulance technician proved disappointing for activists who for months have called for criminal charges against the officers accused of killing her.
Earlier this week, officials in Lousiville, Ky. announced an officer had been indicted by a grand jury for allegedly firing through a door and window, with bullets from his gun striking the wall of an apartment neighboring that of Breonna Taylor.
Taylor was killed after being struck by crossfire as officers executed a “no-knock” search warrant on her apartment where she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, lived.
The primary targets of the police investigation were two men suspected of selling drugs out of a home more than 10 miles away. The men did not live at Taylor’s apartment, but police suspected one of them occasionally visited her home.
On March 13, officers used a battering ram to break down Taylor’s door. Startled, Walker assumed someone was breaking into their apartment and fired a single shot, which struck and injured an officer.
Officers returned fire. At least five bullets struck Taylor. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation into what happened that night took place only after intense public pressure from activists in the United States and elsewhere around the world, demands that grew following several other fatal police encounters, including that of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.
On Wednesday, Kentucky’s attorney general announced there would be no charges against the officers involved in the March shooting that led to Taylor’s death because his agency concluded they acted appropriately during the incident.
Legal experts disagree.
“I think this one is a slighted, biased prosecution,” Sacramento criminal defense attorney Mark Reichel said in an interview with FOX40 News. “In this case, there’s a lot that was not given to the grand jury…some of the reports were backdated, were altered and there were complete lies in some of the reports.”
Mark said existing law in Kentucky tends to favor police officers in criminal probes like this one, but a prosecutor still has the ability to act independently of a grand jury and bring charges if they feel there is sufficient evidence of a crime.
“You can say, well, look, the grand jury didn’t do this, but I’m a prosecutor, I’m going to file a criminal complaint,” Mark said. “With a certain period of time, [suspects are] entitled to a preliminary hearing…where a judge reviews the evidence.”
As far as the state’s criminal investigation goes, Mark said he believes Wednesday’s announcement to be the end of the line there. But federal prosecutors could launch their own civil rights investigation into the death, though any such action would depend on the outcome of the November election.
“That could happen, but it will only happen if the Democrats take the White House…with a new attorney general,” Mark said. “Attorney General Barr has indicated he will not get involved in this case.”