2 Louisville officers shot amid Breonna Taylor protests

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(CBS News) — Two police officers were shot in downtown Louisville on Wednesday night amid protests over the death of Breonna Taylor, interim police chief Robert Schroeder said at a press conference.

It was unclear whether the shooting was related to the protests, but it came hours after Kentucky’s attorney general announced that no officers were indicted for their role in the fatal police shooting of Taylor, a Black emergency medical worker killed in her own home.

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At approximately 8:30 p.m. local time, officers were called to respond to a large crowd and reports of shots fired, Schroeder said. While they were deploying, two police officers were shot.

Both officers were in stable condition, Schroeder said. One was alert, and the other was undergoing surgery.

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A photo provided by a Louisville, Kentucky correctional facility shows Larynzo Johnson, 26, who was arrested on September 23, 2020, as a suspect in the shooting of two Louisville police officers.

Larynzo Johnson, 26, was arrested in connection with the shooting of both officers and was expected to face an arraignment hearing on Friday morning, likely via remote as courts are closed due to anti-coronavirus measures. The FBI has said it was assisting with the investigation into the shooting.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear released a statement in the aftermath of the shooting urging protesters to remain peaceful and return home. “I’m asking everybody, please go home, go home tonight,” he said. “There will be many times over the coming days when there will be opportunities to be heard, and so many people are listening right now.”

In a statement posted to Twitter, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer pleaded with protesters still out to go home. “If you want to protest, please return during the daylight to peaceably protest. Violence does not get us any closer to a fair, just and equitable Louisville,” he said.

“Our hearts go out tonight to the two officers who were shot,” Fischer added.

President Trump also weighed in, tweeting his prayers to the wounded officers. “The Federal Government stands behind you and is ready to help,” he wrote. “Spoke to @GovAndyBeshear and we are prepared to work together, immediately upon request!”

Protesters took to the streets in Louisville, and in cities across the nation, after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Wednesday that no officers would be charged in Taylor’s death. One former officer, Brett Hankison, was charged with wanton endangerment for firing shots into Taylor’s neighbor’s apartment. The other two officers who opened fire in Taylor’s home, Detective Myles Cosgrove and Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly, were not charged.

The Louisville Police Department confirmed that 127 people were arrested as police responded to the Louisville protests on Wednesday night.

On March 13, police raided Taylor’s home to search for illegal drugs. Cameron said that as Mattingly attempted to enter the apartment, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot that hit him, prompting the officers to return fire. Taylor was shot six times, but Cameron said conflicting ballistics reports made it difficult to determine who fired the fatal shot.

Ben Crump, an attorney representing Taylor’s family, decried the grand jury’s decision as “outrageous and offensive.”

“If Brett Hankison’s behavior was wanton endangerment to people in neighboring apartments, then it should have been wanton endangerment in Breonna Taylor’s apartment too,” Crump tweeted. “In fact, it should have been ruled wanton murder!”

Protesters began marching through Louisville soon after the attorney general’s announcement, chanting, “No justice, no peace.”

“We’ve been out here for 100-plus days, this is ridiculous, you know, it’s not fair. At the end of the day, how much is a Black woman’s life worth?” protester Carmen Jones told CBS News.

Protests across the nation

The Louisville demonstrators were joined by protesters across the country. Thousands gathered outside the Barclays Center, according to CBS News York, and protesters in D.C. had a few small clashes with police.

A CBS Denver crew saw one man detained by police after approaching a crowd protesting near a police station with a firearm.

The San Diego police force declared a protest in front of its headquarters an illegal assembly late Wednesday night “in response to acts of violence & vandalism,” and ordered all demonstrators to disperse. CBS8 said the protest, drawing hundreds of people, remained largely peaceful apart from a small confrontation when demonstrators blocked a street.

Seattle Police said at least 13 people were arrested after protesters started throwing fireworks and glass bottles toward a precinct building and officers on the scene.

According to an official police website, a single protestor threw an explosive that exploded near officers on bikes, setting off a clash.

“A few minutes later additional people cut wires powering the security cameras to the precinct. Officers identified the individual who threw the explosive and attempted to arrest the person. As a group off bike officers attempted to make the arrest they were then assaulted with bottles and rocks,” leading to the arrests.

In Portland, Oregon, where protests have taken place for months against police  brutality and racial injustice, the police declared a riot after protesters lit a fire in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center. They said in a tweet that “a Molotov Cocktail was thrown towards officers outside of Central Precinct,” and included video of a blaze shot by a journalist.

Earlier in the day, Beshear authorized the deployment of 500 members of the Kentucky National Guard to Louisville. Mayor Greg Fischer announced a citywide curfew from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., and said city buildings would be closed.

“I urge everyone to commit once again to a peaceful, lawful response like we’ve seen here for the majority of the past several months,” Fischer said