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Officer involved in the death of Breonna Taylor indicted for wanton endangerment, grand jury decision met with protests across the country

Protestors kneeling for nine minutes, the approximate duration George Floyd was pinned down with a knee to the neck at June 3rd protest.(Sabrina Edwards/The Collegiate)

By Sabrina Edwards

Many are outraged after Louisville grand jury announced today that one officer involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, would be charged, but not with murder.

On March 13, Taylor, 26, a Grand Rapids native and emergency room technician, died after Louisville officers raided her apartment while executing a late night, “no-knock” search warrant. Former Detective Brett Hankinson is being indicted with three counts of wanton endangerment, for firing his weapon and blindly endangering the surrounding tenants. The other officers are not being charged. 

Within hours of the grand jury announcement, protests began gathering in cities across the country including Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Louisville to protest the decision,  calling for justice to be served.

Grand Rapids Chief of Police Eric Payne took a knee with Taylor’s family during the demonstration after being requested to by the protesters.

Tawanna Gordon, Taylor’s cousin, spoke with WOODTV8, stating that there was negligence the night Taylor died.

“They shot one time in self-defense because they thought someone was coming into their apartment,” said Gordon. “They (the police) shot over 20 times, six of them hit Breonna, killing her, and it’s negligence. In my personal opinion it is excessive force equipped with negligence.”

The city of Grand Rapids issued a statement on the decision made by the grand jury stating, “Our hearts are with Breonna Taylor’s loved ones and all those who feel her loss. We see you, we hear you and we support you. We feel her loss, too. This is her hometown. She is one of us, and we are grieving with her family and our community. We are in this together.”

Grand Rapids officials are asking those who  are coming together to gather to mourn or protest to follow COVID-19 guidelines by wearing a face covering, practicing safe physical distancing and washing or sanitizing your hands regularly. The city of Grand Rapids is in support of these gatherings, stating that it’s natural for communities to come together in times like this.

Grand Valley State University President Philomena Mantella issued a statement on Twitter about their plan for racial equality. Mantella stated that GVSU will “…Continue to learn, lead, and, most importantly, act, as we know more than words are expected from us.”

GVSU also issued a 15-point plan that the school will be taking to work towards inclusion and equity.

“It is March 13 all over again for us,” said Gordon to WOODTV8. “We are not surprised, but we definitely still hoped they would do the right thing. It’s just one black life after the next, and it hasn’t stopped. It seems like it’s increased, and our lives matter.”

Editors note: this story was edited at 6:05 p.m. on Sept 24 to include comments made by Grand Valley State University President Philomena Mantella on Twitter about racial equality.



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