LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Protests turned violent late Wednesday in the aftermath of an announcement that charges would not be filed against two police officers in the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed inside her apartment in March.
Shots rang out Wednesday night as protesters in downtown Louisville tried to avoid police blockades, moving along an alleyway while officers lobbed pepper balls. People covered their ears, ran away and frantically looked for places to hide.
Police with long guns swarmed the area, then officers in riot gear and military-style vehicles blocked off roadways.
Demonstrators also marched in cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Two Louisville, Ky., police officers were shot as they investigated reports of gunfire in the city.
Interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said one person was in custody in the wounding of those two officers. He said one officer was alert and stable in a hospital, and the other was undergoing surgery and also considered in stable condition. Both are expected to recover from their injuries, he said.
Taylor was shot in her apartment by officers who were executing a warrant in a drug investigation involving a suspect who did not live there.
Wednesday night's violence came after a Kentucky grand jury decided not to charge the two officers who shot Taylor, finding that the officers were justified in using force to protect themselves after they faced gunfire from Taylor's boyfriend.
The grand jury's only charges were three counts of wanton endangerment against a third officer, since-fired Brett Hankison, whose bullets passed through Taylor's apartment into the home of Taylor's neighbor.
Soon after Wednesday's announcement, Ben Crump, a lawyer for Taylor's family, denounced the grand jury's decision as "outrageous and offensive," and protesters shouting, "No justice, no peace!" began marching through the streets. Some sat quietly and wept. Later in the afternoon, scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators, and some protesters were arrested.
Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times. The warrant that officers used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found in her apartment.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Wednesday that the investigation showed that the officers announced themselves before entering her apartment, and it was not an instance of a no-knock warrant.
Taylor's case has become a touchstone in protests that have gripped the nation since May. Taylor's image has been painted on streets, emblazoned on protest signs and silk-screened on T-shirts worn by celebrities.
Wednesday's announcement of the charges drew immediate sadness, frustration and anger that the grand jury did not go further. The wanton endangerment charges each carry a sentence of up to five years.
"Justice has NOT been served," tweeted Linda Sarsour of Until Freedom, a group that has pushed for charges in the case.
Right after the decision, protesters began gathering in Louisville, with some preparing food and others hauling cases of water to "Injustice Square," the park where people have demanded justice for Taylor.
They were particularly upset that the only officer charged was required to post a bond of just $15,000.
While the rallies early on were largely peaceful, police in protective gear and batons mobilized in downtown, and some scuffles broke out, and officers could be seen handcuffing some people. Police also ordered a group that broke off from the protests to disperse, warning that chemical agents might be used if they didn't.
Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said he authorized a limited deployment of the National Guard. An Associated Press reporter saw Guard members and armored military vehicles in downtown Louisville.
Beshear also urged Cameron, the state attorney general, to post online all the evidence that could be released without affecting the charges filed.
"Those that are currently feeling frustration, feeling hurt, they deserve to know more," he said.Gallery: One officer indicted in Breonna Taylor case
In a news conference after the announcement of the grand jury's decision, Cameron said, "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."
He later added, "I know that not everyone will be satisfied. Our job is to present the facts to the grand jury, and the grand jury then applies the facts," he said, adding: "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."
"Criminal law is not meant to respond to every sorrow and grief," he told reporters after the charges were announced. "But my heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor. And I've said that repeatedly. My mother, if something was to happen to me, would find it very hard," he added, choking up.
Cameron, who is the state's first Black attorney general, said the officers acted in self-defense after Taylor's boyfriend shot at them.
"According to Kentucky law, the use of force by [officers Jonathan] Mattingly and [Myles] Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves," he said. "This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor's death."
"I understand that as a Black man how painful this is ... which is why it was so incredibly important to make sure that we did everything we possibly could to uncover every fact," Cameron said.
SHOTS THROUGH DOOR
He said an FBI crime lab determined that Cosgrove fired the bullet that killed Taylor.
Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, hitting Mattingly. Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but prosecutors later dropped the charge.
Walker told police that he heard knocking but didn't know who was entering the home and fired in self-defense.
Cameron, who will now oversee the prosecution of Hankison, said the former detective was charged with the crimes because the grand jury believed that the shots he fired had endangered three people in an apartment next to Taylor's.
Hankison shot into the sliding glass patio door and window of Taylor's apartment building, both of which were covered with blinds, which was in violation of a department policy that requires officers to have a line of sight, Cameron said.
At least some of his bullets traveled through the walls into the apartment directly behind Taylor's, where a pregnant woman, her husband and their 5-year-old child were asleep. The bullets shattered a glass door of the adjoining apartment, but did not harm the couple and their child.
Under Kentucky law, a person is guilty of the crime when "under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person."
Cameron said Wednesday that the FBI was still investigating whether any of the officers committed a federal crime, such as violating Taylor's civil rights.
Cameron, who is a Republican, was one of 20 names on President Donald Trump's list to fill a future Supreme Court vacancy.
Asked about the decision, Trump said he hadn't had time to consider it and would comment when he had. He added: "My message is that I love the Black community, and that I've done more for the Black community than any other president, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln."
At a news conference, Trump read a statement from Cameron saying "justice is not often easy." He praised Cameron's handling of the case and the governor's calling up of the national guard.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told reporters Wednesday that he didn't have enough information on the decision to comment fully, but he warned protesters to keep demonstrations peaceful.
"Do not sully her memory or her mother's by engaging in any violence," he said.
Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, told reporters that she also hadn't fully read the decision.
"But there's no question that Breonna Taylor and her family deserved justice yesterday, today and tomorrow, so I'll review it," she said.
On Sept. 15, the city settled a lawsuit against the three officers that was filed by Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, agreeing to pay her $12 million and enact police reforms.
But she and her lawyers have insisted that nothing short of murder charges for all three officers would be good enough.
Many legal experts had said that indictments would be unlikely, given the state's statute allowing citizens to use lethal force in self-defense. John W. Stewart, a former assistant attorney general in Kentucky, said he believed that at least two of the officers who opened fire were protected by that law.
"As an African American, as someone who has been victim of police misconduct myself, getting pulled over and profiled, I know how people feel," Stewart said. "I have been there, but I have also been a prosecutor, and emotions cannot play a part here."
Information for this article was contributed by Rukmini Callimachi, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and John Eligon of The New York Times; and by Dylan Lovan, Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, Bruce Schreiner, Rebecca Reynolds Yonker, Kevin Freking, Lisa J. Adams Wagner and Haleluya Hadero of The Associated Press. Hudsbeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.