Larynzo D. Johnson, 26, was charged with 14 counts of wanton endangerment and two counts of assault on a police officer
Police advocates are questioning the ‘light’ charges brought against the man who allegedly shot and wounded two Louisville cops during a demonstration, demanding to know why the suspect doesn’t face an attempted murder charge.
Larynzo D. Johnson, 26, was charged with 14 counts of wanton endangerment and two counts of assault on a police officer after the shooting on Wednesday night in Louisville.
Injured were Major Aubrey Gregory, who was shot in the hip and has been released from the hospital, and Officer Robinson Desroches, who was shot in the abdomen and required emergency surgery, but is expected to survive.
‘A police officer shot in the gut, and a police officer shot in the hip, in the middle of violent riots and looting would indicate to me that that should be – at a minimum – attempted murder,’ said retired police Sergeant Betsy Brantner Smith, a spokeswoman for the National Police Association, in an interview with DailyMail.com on Thursday.
Louisville police officers are seen running for cover immediately after a shooting that injured two officers on Wednesday night
Major Aubrey Gregory, (left) was shot in the hip and has been released from the hospital, and Officer Robinson Desroches (right) was shot in the abdomen and required emergency surgery, but is expected to survive
Brantner Smith noted that Johnson’s arrest citation says he ‘intentionally used a handgun to fire multiple bullets at officers’.
‘I don’t know why that wouldn’t be at least, with the one officer shot in the gut, attempted murder,’ she said.
A spokesman for the Jefferson County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney said that the charges against Johnson had been filed by arresting officers, and could be upgraded if appropriate.
‘I am sure that officers investigating the case filed what charges they felt appropriate at the time,’ Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeffrey Cooke told DailyMail.com in a statement.
‘If the case makes its way to our office for presentation to a grand jury, the assigned prosecutor will review the facts and can add additional charges, including attempted murder, if the facts support it,’ he added.
‘Ordinarily if someone intentionally shoots at someone with a firearm and hits them the shooter would be charged with Assault in the First Degree. Depending on the facts, Attempted Murder could also be charged,’ Cooke said.
The Louisville Metro Police department did not immediately respond to inquiries from DailyMail.com on Thursday night about the charges against Johnson.
In Kentucky, people who fire shots at police officers have regularly been charged with attempted murder – even when the bullets miss.
In December, Jason William Marsee pleaded guilty to attempted murder after firing eight rounds from a .22 caliber rifle through the side of a house in Knox County, narrowly missing cops who were investigating an assault complaint. He was sentenced to 11 years.
Brantner Smith, who served for 29 years in the Naperville Police Department in Illinois, pointed out that so far prosecutors have released little evidence in the case, calling for more transparency.
The NPA is a non-profit advocacy and educational group founded to build public support for law enforcement.
National Police Association spokeswoman Betsy Brantner Smith (left) questioned why Johnson was not charged with attempted murder. A spokesman for Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas B. Wine (right) said that the charges were filed by arresting officers, and could be upgraded at a later date if the facts support it
A burning trash can is seen as protesters clash with police after a grand jury considering the March killing of Breonna Taylor did not directly charge officers in her death
Police officers guard the location near where an officer was shot on Wednesday
Wednesday’s shootings unfolded against the tense backdrop of demonstrations against the grand jury decision in the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in March.
Louisville Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said Wednesday’s shooting of the two officers took place at Brook Street and Broadway about 8.30pm when officers were responding to a large crowd of demonstrators.
Bystander video showed a group of people walking down a street when gunfire erupted several hundred yards away where police cars were parked with their lights flashing.
At least 14 shots rang out as the person holding the camera started running away from the scene.
Johnson was arrested at 8.40pm, according to his arrest citation, which says the suspect ‘showed an extreme indifference to the value of human life’ and put officers at risk of death or serious injury.
Witnesses identified him as the man seen firing a gun at the cops and running from the scene and he was armed at the time of his arrest, the citation reads.
Authorities expect ballistics to prove the shots fired came from the handgun in his possession.
A police officer stands in an alley after an officer was shot, Wednesday in Louisville
Police survey an area after a police officer was shot. Police advocates are questioning the ‘light’ charges brought against the man who allegedly shot and wounded two Louisville cops
Brantner Smith slammed the shooting, saying that it negatively impacts those who wish to peacefully protest as well as police.
‘It increases the tensions between the officers and the protesters, and that’s never good,’ she said. ‘It’s petrifying, it’s frightening,’ she added, speaking of cops who are assigned to work at protests.
‘It’s incredibly frightening for them to have to stand the line while people are protesting, and now they’re thinking “is someone going to come back tonight and shoot me?”‘ she said.
The grand jury had declined to directly charge three officers in Taylor’s death, saying the shooting was justified after Taylor’s boyfriend opened fire first, striking one cop as they executed a search warrant at her home.
However, one officer was charged with wanton endangerment for alleged wild shots that went through the wall of a neighboring apartment, leading some to question whether the wanton endangerment charges against Johnson were a political statement.
‘Charging him with wanton endangerment, I would say sounds a little light,’ remarked Brantner Smith.
Johnson has no previous arrests for violent crimes or felony convictions.
He is being held at Louisville Metro Corrections and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday morning.