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Suspect charged in shooting of 2 officers at Louisville protests

  • LOUISVILLE POLICE DEPT. VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Larynzo Johnson. Johnson, 26, was charged with 14 counts of wanton endangerment and two counts of assault on a police officer after two officers were shot during protests in the city, according to the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections.

    LOUISVILLE POLICE DEPT. VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Larynzo Johnson. Johnson, 26, was charged with 14 counts of wanton endangerment and two counts of assault on a police officer after two officers were shot during protests in the city, according to the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections.

Authorities in Louisville, Kentucky, have charged Larynzo Johnson, 26, with 14 counts of wanton endangerment and two counts of assault on a police officer after two officers were shot during protests in the city, according to the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections.

Johnson was arrested Wednesday, booked this morning, and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday, the department said.

The city erupted in angry demonstrations Wednesday after a grand jury decided not to bring charges against the police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor during a botched nighttime raid on her apartment in March. The grand jury instead indicted another officer involved in the raid for recklessly firing shots that entered a neighboring apartment.

The decision in a case that has drawn widespread condemnation and outrage sparked other demonstrations across the country as well. Taylor’s name has become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, along with those of George Floyd and other Black people across the country who have been killed by police.

Neither of the officers who were shot during the protests in Louisville sustained life-threatening injuries, Mayor Greg Fischer said at a news conference this morning. He said that one of the officers, Maj. Aubrey Gregory, a commander, had been released from the hospital after treatment for a leg wound. The other officer, Robinson Desroches, was recovering from abdominal surgery, the mayor said.

Fischer said that while he knew the community was hurting over the grand jury’s action, the shooting of the officers was “completely unacceptable.”

“Many see Breonna Taylor’s case as both the tragic death of a young woman, and the continuation of a long pattern of devaluation and violence that Black women and men face in our country, as they have historically,” the mayor said. The question, he said, is: “What do we do with this pain?”

He added: “When any of us gives into the temptation to channel anger into violence, we slow our progress.”

Early today, the FBI and the Louisville Metro Police Department asked for the public’s help in obtaining photos and videos related to the shooting of the officers. They posted on Twitter a link where the public could upload files and send tips.

The morning after the protests, downtown Louisville appeared quiet, other than the beeping sounds from garbage trucks. In photos posted online, Black Lives Matter and Breonna Taylor banners reading “Say Her Name” could be seen near police barricades that still blocked some city streets.

Video images from Jefferson Square Park showed cleanup crews in fluorescent yellow jackets raking up litter and debris and shoveling it into orange trucks. Metal trash cans on sidewalks appeared charred in places by small fires ignited in them during the protests Wednesday night. Cardboard signs supporting Taylor surrounded a statue in the square, and a painted portrait of Taylor was encircled by pink, yellow and purple flowers.

Chief Robert J. Schroeder of the Louisville police said he was grateful that the two officers who were shot survived.

“Last night’s situation could have been so much worse,” he said.

There were additional reports of injuries to police officers, including a sergeant who was struck by a protester’s baton, and another who suffered a knee injury “while arresting a resisting individual,” the chief said. Another officer was spit on, he said.

Schroeder said there were 16 instances of looting in Louisville on Wednesday night, and that 127 people were arrested during the protests.

“There were several instances of unlawful behavior where police needed to intervene,” he said.

Among those arrested were two employees of a right-wing website, Daily Caller. The site’s publisher said on Twitter that the two were reporters covering the protests. The Louisville Courier-Journal said police confirmed that the two were arrested.

A curfew will remain in effect in the city from 9 p.m. today to 6:30 a.m. Friday, and again Friday night into Saturday morning, the chief said.

Raoul Cunningham, president of the Louisville chapter of the NAACP, said on CNN today that he and many others were deeply discouraged, but not surprised, by the grand jury outcome.

“We have seen justice unevenly administered in this city before,” he said.

He urged demonstrators to remain peaceful, but noted that leaders should support everyone’s right to protest.

“Those in leadership positions must discourage the violence, but not discourage the demonstration,” Cunningham said.

The shooting of the two officers Wednesday was captured on a video livestreamed by the Police Department, in which officers could be seen marching south down South Brook Street from East Broadway. In the video, several projectiles were launched from the area of the police line and made loud bangs as they burst in the air.

Moments later, several other bangs were heard, and the officers scattered. A spokesman said the officers were shot several blocks away, near the corner of South Brook and East College streets.

“Shots fired, shots fired,” the woman recording the livestream said as she ran for cover. At least a dozen officers took cover behind a police truck, and officers began shouting “Officer down!”

“Get to cover!” another yelled, as the officers retreated toward a nearby Walgreens. “We got one down!”

A group of about 350 protesters split up at the sound of gunshots, many running through parking lots and nearby yards. Police shot at least one protester in the neck with a projectile.

‘There are Breonnas everywhere’: Protesters nationwide demand justice.

In Los Angeles, they gathered in front of the Hall of Justice. In Dallas, they gathered outside the Police Department headquarters. In Minnesota, they gathered at the Capitol.

And in Norfolk, Virginia, one man held a sign that said, “There are Breonnas everywhere.”

Anger over Taylor’s killing and the prosecutors’ handling of the case has spread far from Louisville, with protests Wednesday night drawing crowds in New York City, Chicago and Seattle. Some rallies, like those in Portland, Maine, and Memphis, Tennessee, were small but vocal.

— Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of New York, including a group in Brooklyn that met outside the Barclays Center and swelled to around 2,000 people as it marched across the Manhattan Bridge and shut down traffic. Huey Freeman said that she had been protesting since demonstrations began this summer, and that seeing so many people gather again felt like a resurgent movement. “It means that the people want justice even if the system doesn’t,” she said.

— In Portland, Oregon, a person in a crowd of protesters threw a Molotov cocktail at a line of police officers, sending the officers running for safety as flames erupted on the street. Others in the crowd of several hundred lit small fires on the facade of a Portland Police Bureau building, and authorities declared the gathering a riot.

— In St. Paul, Minnesota, Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by a police officer in 2016, spoke at a rally outside the Capitol. “I don’t want this incident to get swept under the rug and everybody forgets about all the innocent lives that have been taken,” Reynolds said. “We can never forget about any of these lives.”

— Police in Denver arrested a man who they said drove a car into a protest near the state Capitol building Wednesday night. No injuries were reported. Video taken by a reporter for The Denver Post showed a crowd surrounding the vehicle before the driver accelerated through them, throwing one person to the ground.

— About 100 people joined the Rev. Michael Pfleger in a march on Chicago’s South Side, stopping to shut down traffic in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood for about an hour. The protesters using a gallon of fake blood to spell out “Breonna” in the middle of the intersection, and then sat in the street and chanted, “We want justice, we want it now.”

— In Seattle, about 200 protesters in raincoats and ponchos marched through downtown. Video posted on social media showed police officers on bikes riding over a person who attempted to block their way. Another clip showed an officer being hit in the head with a baseball bat. Shortly after midnight, police declared the protest unlawful. At least 13 people were arrested, according to police, and multiple officers were injured, including the one hit in the head with the bat.

— The Georgia Department of Public Safety’s SWAT team used “less lethal gas” after “unruly protesters” in Atlanta ignored orders not to climb on a SWAT vehicle, said Franka Young, a department spokeswoman. One video posted on Twitter shows a SWAT team member pushing, then kicking a canister that is releasing a white gas toward protesters.

— In Buffalo, New York, a pickup truck drove through a group of protesters in Niagara Square about 8:45 p.m. and struck a protester who was on a bicycle, the Police Department said. The person who was hit was taken to Erie County Medical Center with what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries.

— About 50 people gathered on a Milwaukee street corner for a candlelight vigil, by turns silent and spirited, in front of a large mural of Taylor on a brick wall. “This is not going to end until we challenge the systems,” said Pilar Olvera, stressing that Black women could not fight the battle alone. Shortly after, a woman led the crowd in a call and response: “Say her name! Breonna Taylor!”

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