Scores of celebrities and public figures joined the chorus of voices crying out on Wednesday after a grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky, declined to return murder charges against any of the police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black medical worker, was shot in her home in the early hours of March 13 after Louisville police served a “no-knock” warrant and entered her apartment with a battering ram. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, called 911 and shot at the intruders in self-defense with a registered gun, striking one officer. The plainclothes officers responded by firing more than two dozen times, killing Taylor. Police believed a suspect in a drug ring ― who did not live there and, as they later learned, had already been arrested ― was having packages delivered to that address.
Authorities announced Wednesday that no charges would be filed against two of the white officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove. The other police officer on the scene, Detective Brett Hankison, was charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.
But not for the shots fired inside Taylor’s home. The charges were related to the bullets that penetrated neighboring apartments.
“There will be celebrities, influencers and activists who have never lived in Kentucky who try to tell us how to feel, suggesting they understand the facts of this case, and that they know our community and the commonwealth better than we do,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said when announcing the decision on Wednesday. “But they do not.”
Celebrities, influencers and activists did indeed express their disdain, including George Clooney, who said that as a Kentucky native, he was ashamed of the decision.
“I was born and raised in Kentucky. Cut tobacco on the farms of Kentucky. Both my parents and my sister live in Kentucky. I own a home in Kentucky, and I was there last month,” Clooney said in a statement provided to several news outlets.
“The justice system I was raised to believe in holds people responsible for their actions. Her name was Breonna Taylor and she was shot to death in her bed by 3 white police officers, who will not be charged with any crime for her death. I know the community. I know the commonwealth. And I was taught in the schools and churches of Kentucky what is right and what is wrong. I’m ashamed of this decision.”
Other prominent politicians, activists, athletes and Hollywood figures, including Kerry Washington, LeBron James, Padma Lakshmi, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Dan Levy, Colin Kaepernick, Mia Farrow, Ava DuVernay, Bernice King and Viola Davis, spoke up:
Hey @kyoag we don’t have to live in Louisville to know how you dropped the ball on this. #BreonnaTaylor was a citizen of the world and that’s why you will continue to see our protests of injustice across the globe. ✊🏻
— Bryan Greenberg (@bryangreenberg) September 23, 2020
I’ve been lost for words today! I’m devastated, hurt, sad, mad! We want Justice for Breonna yet justice was met for her neighbors apartment walls and not her beautiful life. Was I surprised at the verdict. Absolutely not but damnit I was & still am hurt and heavy hearted! I send
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 24, 2020
God bless Breonna’s family and all who knew and loved her. Her tragic death compounded by the violence of silence and inaction by the city she called home is more than any of them should have to endure. https://t.co/fcDmIWHlDS
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 23, 2020
Brett Hankison is indicted for shooting into the apartment NEXT to Breonna Taylor & not for KILLING HER.
He’s fired for shooting into BREONNA TAYLOR’S apartment & not for KILLING HER.
This is systemic racism.
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) September 23, 2020
The system did not fail today.
It did exactly what it was built to do.
We don’t need another system.
Systems don’t create community.
We need humane people who work in the interest of justice and for the health, safety and welfare of humanity, without devaluing Black lives.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) September 23, 2020
The American people are sick and tired of brutal police killings without consequences. It’s time to fundamentally reform our racist and broken criminal justice system, end qualified immunity and hold police officers accountable. #BreonnaTaylor
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 23, 2020
They never get it right and that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Breonna Taylor should still be with us and her family deserved justice today. Tired of this shit.
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) September 23, 2020