Suspect Is Charged in Shooting of 2 Louisville Police Officers

The Four Percent


The authorities in Louisville, Ky., have charged Larynzo Johnson, 26, with 14 counts of wanton endangerment and two counts of assault on a police officer after two officers were shot during protests in the city, according to the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections.

Mr. Johnson was arrested on Wednesday, booked on Thursday morning, and is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday, the department said.

The city erupted in angry demonstrations Wednesday after a grand jury decided not to bring charges against the police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor during a botched nighttime raid on her apartment in March. The grand jury indicted another officer involved in the raid for recklessly firing shots that entered a neighboring apartment.

That officer, Brett Hankison, a detective who has since been fired, plans to plead not guilty to the charges in the indictment, three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree, according to his lawyer, Stew Mathews. There is no date set yet for the arraignment, Mr. Mathews said, declining to comment further.

The decision in a case that has drawn widespread condemnation and outrage sparked demonstrations across the country. Ms. Taylor’s name has become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, along with those of George Floyd and other Black people who have been killed by the police.

Neither of the officers who were shot during the protests in Louisville sustained life-threatening injuries, Mayor Greg Fischer said at a news conference on Thursday morning. He said one of the officers, Maj. Aubrey Gregory, a commander, had been released from a hospital after treatment for a leg wound. The other officer, Robinson Desroches, was recovering from abdomen surgery, the mayor said.

Mr. Fischer said that while he knew the community was hurting over the grand jury’s action, the shooting of the officers was “completely unacceptable.”

“Many see Breonna Taylor’s case as both the tragic death of a young woman, and the continuation of a long pattern of devaluation and violence that Black women and men face in our country, as they have historically,” the mayor said. The question, he said, is: “What do we do with this pain?”

He added: “When any of us gives into the temptation to channel anger into violence, we slow our progress.”

There were additional reports of injuries to police officers, including a sergeant who was struck by a protester’s baton, and another who suffered a knee injury “while arresting a resisting individual,” the chief said. Another officer was spit on, he said.

Chief Robert J. Schroeder said that there were 16 instances of looting in Louisville on Wednesday night, and that 127 people were arrested during the protests. “There were several instances of unlawful behavior where police needed to intervene,” he said.

Raoul Cunningham, president of the Louisville chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., said on CNN on Thursday that he and many others were deeply discouraged, but not surprised, by the grand jury’s decision. “We have seen justice unevenly administered in this city before,” he said.

He urged demonstrators to remain peaceful but noted that leaders should support everyone’s right to protest. “Those in leadership positions must discourage the violence but not discourage the demonstration,” Mr. Cunningham said.

With about 200 protesters taking shelter at the First Unitarian Church of Louisville on Thursday, the Rev. Lori Kyle walked out to the police officers encircling the block.

It was about a half-hour past the city’s 9 p.m. curfew.

There had been no police intervention downtown earlier when protesters marched for about an hour, one day after the announcement that no officer would be charged for Breonna Taylor’s death, only for endangering her neighbors with reckless gunfire.

But the protesters at the church were stuck, and the police showed no signs of leaving the building Ms. Kyle had opened up to help.

“They want to be out, they want their voices to be heard, they want to protest, but it’s handy to have a place to come — a safe space,” Ms. Kyle said.

When she approached the line, officers allowed her and another church member through to talk to a lieutenant.

The officer said that someone, during the march, had tried to burn down the library next door, and that the police would remain until arson investigators were finished.

About 90 minutes after the protesters arrived at the church, they left without incident.

The police were polite and reasonable for the circumstances, Ms. Kyle said. “We’re not looking for a fight,” she said, “ just looking to give people and opportunity to have a voice.”

On Thursday evening, Mayor Greg Fischer extended the nightly curfew for the county, in effect from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., through the weekend. It had originally been set to expire on Saturday morning. He also said that government buildings downtown would remain closed until the curfew lifts on Monday morning.

“I think we can anticipate a variety of protest activities through tonight, through the weekend, and continuing on for some time,” Chief Robert J. Schroeder said at a news conference.

Antwan Shively had been arrested after curfew on Wednesday after marching with crowds from Jefferson Square Park through several of the city’s neighborhoods. He said the 250 to 400 people who attended would not be enough to force the accountability protesters wanted.

“We need our whole city to come out,” Mr. Shively said in the park on Thursday afternoon. “We understand that people in Louisville are scared — most people have never seen this.”

Chanelle Helm, the lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Louisville, said she was nervous for the safety of protesters, especially after seeing the significant law enforcement presence that was patrolling Louisville on Wednesday evening. “Of course we’re worried about that,” she said about aggression from police officers, adding: “Protest or not.”

Protesters and some police officers, who spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity, said they expect much larger crowds this weekend than have gathered so far.

Mr. Shively said he was prepared to be arrested again if many people in his city, who he described as “close minded,” failed to turn out for marches. “Sometimes you have to get arrested to prove your point,” he said. “I think I proved my point.”

The Seattle Police Department placed a police officer on leave on Thursday in response to a video that showed him rolling his bicycle over the head of a person lying in the street during demonstrations on Wednesday.

The department said in a statement that it had also referred that incident to the King County Sheriff’s Office for a potential criminal investigation.

The video posted online shows a group of Seattle officers moving crowds down a street. While some officers rode bikes, one was jogging or walking with a bike toward the person lying in the middle of the road. Both tires of the officer’s bicycle appeared to roll over the person’s head.

About 200 protesters in raincoats and ponchos marched through downtown Seattle on Wednesday night after news of the grand jury’s decision in the Breonna Taylor case. Shortly after midnight, the police declared the protest unlawful and ordered people to disperse.

At least 13 people were arrested, according to the police, who said demonstrators set fires and threw objects at officers. Several officers were injured, including one who was hit in the head with a metal baseball bat, the police said. That incident was also caught on video, which showed that the officer, who was wearing a helmet, was able to run away from the scene.

In Los Angeles, they gathered in front of the Hall of Justice. In Dallas, they gathered outside the Police Department headquarters. In Minnesota, they gathered at the Capitol.

And in Norfolk, Va., one man held a sign that said, “There are Breonnas everywhere.”

Anger over Ms. Taylor’s killing and the prosecutors’ handling of the case has spread far from Louisville, with protests on Wednesday night drawing crowds in New York, Chicago and Seattle. Some rallies, like those in Portland, Maine, and Memphis, were small but vocal.

  • Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of New York, including a group in Brooklyn that met outside the Barclays Center and swelled to around 2,000 people as it marched across the Manhattan Bridge and shut down traffic. Huey Freeman said that she had been protesting since demonstrations began this summer, and that seeing so many people gather again felt like a resurgent movement. “It means that the people want justice even if the system doesn’t,” she said.

  • In Portland, Ore., a person in a crowd of protesters threw a Molotov cocktail at a line of police officers, sending the officers running for safety as flames erupted on the street. Others in the crowd of several hundred lit small fires on the facade of a Portland Police Bureau building, and the authorities declared the gathering a riot.

  • In St. Paul, Minn., Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by a police officer in 2016, spoke at a rally outside the Capitol. “I don’t want this incident to get swept under the rug and everybody forgets about all the innocent lives that have been taken,” Ms. Reynolds said. “We can never forget about any of these lives.”

  • The police in Denver arrested a man who they said drove a car into a protest near the State Capitol building Wednesday night. No injuries were reported. Video taken by a reporter for The Denver Post showed a crowd surrounding the vehicle before the driver accelerated through them, throwing one person to the ground.

  • About 100 people joined the Rev. Michael Pfleger in a march on Chicago’s South Side, stopping to shut down traffic in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood for about an hour. The protesters using a gallon of fake blood to spell out “Breonna” in the middle of the intersection, and then sat in the street and chanted, “We want justice, we want it now.”

  • The Georgia Department of Public Safety’s SWAT team used “less lethal gas” after “unruly protesters” in Atlanta ignored orders not to climb on a SWAT vehicle, said Franka Young, a department spokeswoman. One video posted on Twitter shows a SWAT team member pushing, then kicking a canister that is releasing a white gas toward protesters.

  • In Buffalo, a pickup truck drove through a group of protesters in Niagara Square about 8:45 p.m. and struck a protester who was on a bicycle, the Police Department said. The person who was hit was taken to Erie County Medical Center with what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries.

  • About 50 people gathered on a Milwaukee street corner for a candlelight vigil, by turns silent and spirited, in front of a large mural of Ms. Taylor on a brick wall. “This is not going to end until we challenge the systems,” said Pilar Olvera, stressing that Black women could not fight the battle alone. Shortly after, a woman led the crowd in a call and response: “Say her name! Breonna Taylor!”

Weeks after launching an offensive against Texas cities accused of defunding police departments, Gov. Greg Abbott proposed a package of six bills on Wednesday that are meant to crack down on rioters and unlawful protesters.

“Texas will always defend the First Amendment right to peacefully protest,” Mr. Abbott said at a news conference in Dallas, “but Texas is not going to tolerate violence or vandalism or rioting.”

Flanked by members of the Dallas Police Department and Republican lawmakers, the two-term governor outlined six pieces of legislation that would impose felony convictions and jail time for illegal behavior during riots.

The proposed measures, to be introduced in the next session of the Texas Legislature in January, would be aimed at those who, during a riot, cause injury or destroy property, block hospital entrances, use fireworks or target officers with a laser. Other measures call for a jail sentence for anyone convicted of hitting or striking an officer with a projectile like a brick or bottle, or providing financial or organizational support to aid or abet a riot, including people who are not at the scene.

Like President Trump, Mr. Abbott has lashed out at Democratic-leaning metropolitan areas, especially Austin, for budget cuts that the governor has said were attempts to “defund” the police. Measures he proposed last month would freeze property taxes and halt annexations in cities that significantly reduce police department budgets.

Mr. Abbott said the measures he proposed on Wednesday were intended to “do even more” to protect law enforcement officers while upholding the right to demonstrate peacefully.

“Peaceably is the word used in the Constitution,” he declared. “The Constitution does not provide the right to rob, to loot, to set fires, to physically harm anyone or anything.”

Manny Garcia, the executive director of the state Democratic Party, called the governor’s announcement a “pathetic and weak attempt to sway the conversation away from his and Trump’s failed coronavirus response and their failures to keep Texans safe.”

In a news conference following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision, Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, said he knew that some people would not be satisfied.

“The decision before my office is not to decide if the loss of Breonna Taylor’s life was a tragedy — the answer to that question is unequivocally yes,” Mr. Cameron said.

He later added: “If we simply act on outrage, there is no justice — mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”

Since 2013, law enforcement officers across the country have killed about 1,000 people a year according to the crowdsourced database Mapping Police Violence. Yet since 2005, only 121 officers have been arrested on charges of murder or manslaughter in on-duty killings, according to data compiled by Philip M. Stinson, a former police officer and a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Of the 95 officers whose cases have concluded, 44 were convicted, but often of a lesser charge, like assault, he said.

That the criminal justice system so rarely comes back with convictions for police officers is one of the key reasons activists should be pushing for structural change, said Andrea Ritchie, author of “Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color.”

“This is part of a larger pattern, and if we don’t interrupt the pattern, we’re going to be in this position again and again and again,” Ms. Ritchie said. “The system that killed Breonna Taylor is not set up to provide justice or reparations for the killing of Breonna Taylor.”

Because the officers did not shoot first — it was the young woman’s boyfriend who opened fire, striking one officer in the leg; he has said he mistook the police for intruders — many legal experts had thought it unlikely the officers would be indicted in her death.

Three officers fired a total of 32 shots, Mr. Cameron said. Rounds fired by Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove struck Ms. Taylor, he said, while Mr. Hankison fired 10 rounds, none of which struck Ms. Taylor.

Ben Crump, a lawyer for the family, wrote on Twitter that the failure to charge any officer for killing Ms. Taylor was “outrageous and offensive.” Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky and Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, both Democrats, called on the attorney general, a Republican, to publish as much of the evidence as possible online so that the public could review it.

Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker, Gillian R. Brassil, Malachy Browne, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Rukmini Callimachi, Robert Chiarito, Shaila Dewan, Johnny Diaz, John Eligon, Katie Gillespie, Russell Goldman, Alisha Haridasani Gupta, Concepción de León, David Montgomery, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Azi Paybarah, Sean Piccoli, Dan Simmons, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Megan Specia, Deena Winter and Will Wright. Kitty Bennett contributed research.


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