The coming crisis in Louisville

While it’s impossible to know exactly when, we’re being told to expect a decision from the Louisville, Kentucky grand juring considering the fate of the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death. As Matt Vespa pointed out at Townhall, this has everyone in the city on edge. Precautions are being taken, including having every available police officer on standby and boarding up the windows on government buildings. The New York Post reports that a state of emergency has been declared across the city and the municipal government is preparing for the worst. They have reason to believe that things will probably go to you-know-where in a handbasket.

Louisville police have declared a state of emergency as the Kentucky city braces for a grand jury decision on the fate of three cops involved in the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

Acting Police Chief Robert Schroeder said Monday that days off and vacation requests for all Louisville Metro Police Department personnel are canceled until further notice pending state Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s announcement on whether the cops involved in the March shooting will face criminal charges.

“To ensure we have the appropriate level of staffing to provide for public safety services and our policing functions, effective immediately the LMPD will operate under the emergency staffing and reporting guidelines as outlined in the Standard Operating Procedures, Emergency Response Plan, and collective bargaining agreements until further notice,” Schroeder said in a memo.

As mentioned above, all time-off has been canceled for the police in anticipation of the announcement. Barriers are being staged around the downtown area and the city has already boarded up all the windows at the federal courthouse, a likely target if riots break out anew.

The problem here is that we don’t really have any idea of what the odds are that the grand jury is going to find sufficient evidence to charge any of the police involved, to say nothing of all of them. The most likely candidate is obviously former police officer Brett Hankinson, since he was the one who fired the shots into Taylor’s apartment. Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove have been on administrative leave since the shooting, but we’ve heard little to nothing about anything that would set them up for more than some form of internal dress-down for not following normal protocols.

But even laying a serious charge on Hankinson doesn’t seem like a sure thing. The lack of body camera footage is a major stumbling block for both the prosecution and the defense, but all accounts indicate that Hankinson didn’t open fire until a shot had already come out of the apartment, striking one of the other officers. It was too dark to see inside very well, so any charge such as murder that requires intent seems to be out of the question. What else do they tag him with? Reckless endangerment or perhaps some lower form of manslaughter, possibly, but I would say that a competent defense team could make a conviction on those counts far from a slam-dunk.

The real question is how the public will react. Will charges against only one of the officers satisfy the mob and prevent widespread riots or will they demand the heads of all three of them? And even if they might be okay with Mattingly and Cosgrove walking, would some form of manslaughter charge against Hankinson be enough when many of the protesters in the streets have been demanding murder charges from day one? I rather doubt it.

When the decision of the grand jury is released, it would probably be a good time to not be in downtown Louisville. Things could turn very ugly very quickly. Business owners and residents may want to follow the example of the courthouse. Board up the windows, lock the doors as best you can and see if you can’t go stay with relatives for a little while.

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David Strom 8:01 AM on December 08, 2022