On Decision Day In Breonna Taylor Case, Protests And 2 Officers Shot
In a matter of hours, one Louisville Metro Police officer was indicted in the Breonna Taylor case, hundreds took to the streets to protest what they saw as an unjust outcome and two police officers were shot downtown.
The events followed a monthslong investigation into the actions of three LMPD officers who executed a search warrant at Taylor’s apartment March 13 and shot and killed her. In all, at least 46 protesters were arrested Wednesday.
The day began for many protesters at Jefferson Square Park, the epicenter of Louisville’s protests against racism and police brutality.
Shortly after listening to the grand jury’s decision that Brett Hankison would be charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, people began to march.
They went south down 6th Street, chanting Taylor’s name, past the barricades blocking access to downtown and into the neighborhoods surrounding the city – Shelby Park and the Highlands.
They chanted: “Out of your house and into the streets.”
On Bardstown Road, some protesters banged on windows, and others flipped tables at a restaurant’s outdoor patio. Soon, they came face-to-face with police in riot gear, and the officers declared the gathering unlawful.
They fired pepper balls into the crowd and arrested 13 people. The crowd began to disperse, retracing their steps back downtown and setting up another clash with police.
Though the county-wide curfew was hours away and the area was completely blocked to vehicle traffic, police again declared the gathering unlawful. They aggressively pushed media and protesters, slamming people on the ground, beating one man with a baton.
At least 16 people were arrested there.
State Representative Attica Scott observed the scene as the crowd reconvened at the square, reflecting on a summer of unrest that has become a focal point for the nation as people grapple with ongoing police brutality.
Scott is from Louisville and has been a regular presence at the protests.
“Today’s decision was not justice for Breonna Taylor,” she said.
As Scott talked, protesters set a series of small fires t in nearby trash cans and at the base of the courthouse. Police rushed in, and again, declared the assembly unlawful.
She watched the scene unfold.
“People are confused,” she said. “They don’t know what’s going on.”
And then people started running — and Scott ran too, disappearing into the crowd.
Hundreds of police marched into the square, decked in riot gear and trailed by armored vehicles and prisoner transport vans. They fired flash bangs and threatened arrest.
The crowd quickly dispersed.
It was around this time, about a mile away, that two police officers were shot near 1st and Broadway. LMPD Chief Robert Schroeder briefed reporters outside U of L hospital, but provided few details. He said the officers were responding to a shots fired call. Live streams showed that protesters were marching nearby when the gunshots rang out.
When the officers responded, two were shot. Schroeder declined to name them.
“One is alert and stable, one is undergoing surgery and stable,” he said.
He said they had one suspect in custody.
“I am very concerned about the safety of our officers,” he said. “I think that the safety of our officers and the community we serve is of the utmost importance.”
By this point, the city’s curfew had come and gone with little conflict. The crowds had largely thinned, but many expected the fight for justice to continue the next day.
John Boyle, Jared Bennett, Stephanie Wolf and Ryan Van Velzer contributed reporting.