Several NFL players have spoken out against a Kentucky grand jury’s decision to bring no charges against police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor.
A 26-year-old Black woman, Taylor was shot dead on March 13 in Louisville, Kentucky as officers from Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) served a so-called “no-knock warrant”—whose use has since been banned by Louisville Metro Council—in an anti-narcotics raid on her apartment.
Taylor was shot multiple times as two of the three officers who took part in the raid opened fire. It subsequently emerged, however, that the warrant was connected to a suspect who did not live on the premises and no drugs were found.
On Wednesday, Jefferson County grand jury charged fired LMPD officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots that went into another home with people inside.
Significantly, however, neither Hankison nor Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and officer Myles Cosgrove were directly indicted on charges directly related to Taylor’s death as prosecutors ruled that the two officers who fired shots were justified in using force to protect themselves.
The verdict sparked protests in Louisville, were two police officers were shot and sustained non-life-threatening injuries, Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and a number of other cities including Kansas City and Dallas.
Newsweek subscription offers >
A host of NFL players added their voices to those protesting, after several players, including Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Miami Dolphins wideout DeVante Parker and Baltimore Ravens safety DeShon Elliott displayed Taylor’s name on their helmets during the first two weeks of the NFL season.
New Orleans Saints star wide receiver Michael Thomas and linebacker Demario Davis both took to Twitter to express their disappointment over the verdict.
Earlier this month, both players featured in a video for a campaign the Saints launched to support Black women in social justice and racial equality and on Wednesday they made their feelings clear.
Thomas called the decision a “dirty game”, while Davis simply used emojis to display his shock at the decision.
Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins indicated the verdict was a stark reminder of how far America still had to go to solve the issues of police brutality and racism.
“It’s really disappointing because justice should be served for her death, Breonna Taylor […] and understanding the neglect of not only Black people, but people of color in general,” he was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.
“The injustices, police brutality and systemic racism and everything of that nature, it’s bigger than just sports or politics or the color of your skin. It’s how you treat people. […] We have to do better as a country and as a people.”
Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson added: “Breonna Taylor’s killers getting off scot free without even a trial is exactly the systemic rot that people are protesting for.
“All those protests, all the outcry for justice, and can’t even get a trial. Angry doesn’t even come close to how I’m feeling.”
Meanwhile, Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers suggested the verdict could lead to fresh protests in NFL stadiums ahead of Week 3 games. In the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting last month, the Lions called off practice and directly tackled the issue of racism and systematic police brutality.
Speaking to the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday, Flowers did not rule out further protests.
“It could lead to whatever it leads to,” he said. “It’s just as far as what people feel and how people feel as far as what can be affected, so I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.”