Heat, Celtics come to terms with Breonna Taylor decision

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — A Jefferson County, Kentucky, grand jury on Wednesday declined to bring charges against three white Louisville police officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman who has been the focus of NBA players’ quest for justice since the NBA’s restart.

Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment in connection with the fatal shooting and his bond was set at $15,000. The charges each carry a maximum length of five years in prison. Hankison was fired from the police force in June. The other two officers — Myles Cosgrove and Jon Mattingly — were not charged in the case.

Members of the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics resumed the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday with heavy hearts and a reluctant focus on basketball.

“It’s tough,” said Celtics guard Jaylen Brown after Miami’s 112-109 win over Boston. “To be honest, I wasn’t surprised by the verdict. It’s hard to gather the words, but I wasn’t surprised. I think that in society, the way it was built, the intentions were never to protect and serve people of color initially. So when they were gearing for what was about to happen, I knew that the wrong decision was probably being made. Until we dismantle, recreate or change this system that we have, it’s going to continue to have victims like Breonna Taylor and others that fall victim to oppression.”

“Obviously there's always a lot of emotion that goes on, and you never actually don't think about it because it's always much bigger than a sport,” said Heat forward Jimmy Butler. “It's always much bigger than basketball, because that could be anybody. That could be me. That could be any African American. So when you look at it like that, for me, it's always on my heart because I just think it's some bull crap. Going into the game, you do have to compete. But at the end of the day, I mean, we're people first, not just athletes.”

On March 13, the three officers entered Taylor’s apartment to execute a warrant to locate a man during a narcotics investigation. The officers announced themselves before entering Taylor’s apartment, said Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron on Wednesday. Witnesses allegedly heard the officers announce themselves, but Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said there was no announcement.

Walker allegedly fired a shot when the officers broke in, according to Cameron. Officers returned fire, shooting over 20 times and striking Taylor five times.

This case, along with the George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minnesota, pushed the Black Lives Matter movement into overdrive and set off protests around the world.

NBA and WNBA players, along with a large number of Americans, protested and committed to fight for justice and raise awareness about the oppression of African Americans. One of the social justice statements players are allowed to wear on the back of their jerseys during the NBA’s Disney restart is "Say Her Name," a reference to Taylor.

“It's frustrating,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said. “I kind of felt like we knew what was going to happen, and then still when it happens, it's sad. It's frustrating. It's been 194 days. There's still no justice. Still having to fight for the same thing. It's just a lot to process. It was a tough day, a tough day for all of us.”

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