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‘Mini Rover’ can wiggle and crawl its way across tricky terrain on other planets

But the “Mini Rover,” a scaled down 3D-printed model of a NASA rover concept, built and tested by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has a gait that allows it to crawl and successfully conquer tricky terrain. Its origins date back to 2009, when NASA’s Spirit rover became stuck in soft soil on Mars…

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But the “Mini Rover,” a scaled down 3D-printed model of a NASA rover concept, built and tested by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has a gait that allows it to crawl and successfully conquer tricky terrain.

Its origins date back to 2009, when NASA’s Spirit rover became stuck in soft soil on Mars and couldn’t be moved. It was used as a stationary science platform for three months until the rover stopped communicating in March 2010. The mission was officially concluded by NASA in 2011.

The soft granular soil, which is known as regolith, acts almost like a fluid when it’s been disturbed on Mars, meaning it’s easier to get stuck in it. (The moon has similar soil.)

After the loss of Spirit, engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston built the Resource Prospector mission rover, or RP15 rover.

The concept involved a rover that allowed for wheel spinning combined with a lifting and sweeping motion by the rover’s legs. But the mission itself was canceled in 2018.

Supported by the NASA National Robotics Initiative and the Army Research Office, researchers at Georgia Tech proposed building and testing a miniature version of the rover made from 3D-printed plastic. They dubbed this small-scale RP15 the Mini Rover.

“Our broad design goal was to replicate RP-15 drive functionality on a scaled-down robot that we could operate in our instrumented test bed,” said Siddharth Shrivastava, study author and an undergraduate student in Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, in an email to CNN.

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Although the robot isn’t an exact replica of the larger rover, which has motors encapsulated in its wheel diameter and a larger power-to-weight ratio, the Georgia Tech team was able to replicate the lifting, sweeping and wheel-spin motions. These motions were key for their tests. Their model, built using in-house 3D printers, has four wheeled legs that are powered by 12 motors.

The Mini Rover was based off of a larger rover design by NASA.

Once the robot was assembled at Georgia Tech, it was time to test the Mini Rover on flat and sloped beds of poppy seeds. While they aren’t exactly an analog of the surfaces these rovers might encounter on other planets, the 1 millimeter seeds have a number of features that make them suitable for experiments.

“Poppy seeds are quite a useful granular media for laboratory experiments with robots,” said Andras Karsai, study coauthor and Georgia Tech School of Physics doctoral candidate, in an email to CNN.

“They are soft enough to crush safely between moving robotic joints if stuck, and do not produce any harmful dust.”

Locomotion tests

The researchers started by putting Mini Rover through the same gait motion tests that RP15 experienced at Johnson Space Center and also explored ranges of motion that only the smaller rover could perform due to its diminutive size.

If only the wheels were activated, the robot would slip over the poppy seeds and sink down. When the sweeping motion of the robot’s legs was added, the Mini Rover was able to use this unique locomotion method to paddle out of the poppy seeds as they shifted unpredictably. This prevented the rover from sinking more by creating seed mounds to its advantage that it could climb over.

Mars rover expected to launch this year delayed until 2022, partially due to coronavirus

This wheeled, sweeping and lifting motion created a successful crawling motion for the rover, even when one of its limbs was intentionally disabled. This crawl was dubbed “rear rotator pedaling” by the researchers.

“When loose materials flow, that can create problems for robots moving across it,” said Dan Goldman, study coauthor and Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in a statement.

The Mini Rover was tested on a bed of poppy seeds.

“This rover has enough degrees of freedom that it can get out of jams pretty effectively. By avalanching materials from the front wheels, it creates a localized fluid hill for the back wheels that is not as steep as the real slope.”

Disabling lift, sweep or wheel spin individually hindered the rover. But the combination of all three created the most efficiency and reduced drag.

“This was an elegant experiment with clear results: Combining all three systems was necessary,” Shrivastava said.

The same was true when they tilted the seed bed to simulate the rover climbing steep planetary hills.

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The rover could successfully climb the hill when its front wheels stirred up the poppy seeds and pushed them back to its rear wheels, and the rear wheels wiggled in a side-to-side paddling motion. This created a smaller slope for the rear wheels to climb.

“Disturbing the granular media is actually key to the robot’s performance,” Karsai said. “By constantly agitating the granular media with its wheels, the robot forms a localized frictional fluid which it can effectively ‘crawl’ through.

“On sloped surfaces, this agitation also helps the media avalanche into local mounds that the rover robot can push off of. In brief, the ‘robophysics’ approach led to many surprising outcomes, which we could not have predicted through modeling alone.”

Curiosity rover captures high-resolution panorama of its home on Mars

Overall, the rover was able to continue up the hill. But a robot with only spinning wheel motion would have become stuck.

These tests were also carried out at Johnson Space Center with the full-size RP15 rover driving over a flat, moist sand bed, and they achieved the same results that were found with Mini Rover.

Mars 2020 rover is officially named 'Perseverance'

Going forward, the engineers want to test the larger RP15 and Mini Rover on steeper slopes using different soils and terrains to test more functionality. They also want to add local terrain sensing, which could help the rover detect its surroundings. Shrivastava is also curious to explore downhill locomotion.

The capabilities demonstrated in the study could be used to inform the design of next-generation rovers that could visit previously unexplored areas like the lunar poles, or even challenging spots on Earth, the researchers said.

Chinese space mission reveals what it's like on the farside of the moon

“The work reported in this paper supports the design of rovers to access steep and soft soils, where scientifically interesting samples and materials might exist,” Robert Ambrose, study coauthor and division chief of the software, robotics and simulation division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

“For lunar exploration, that includes driving into dark craters and regions that are permanently shadowed at the Moon’s poles. For Mars it might mean operating in soft sands and other deposits that are treacherous for rovers.”

“Personally, I’m eager to see these strategies adapt beyond the laboratory within engineering groups developing locomotion platforms for the moon, Mars and beyond,” Shrivastava said. “Aside from our species’ launch vehicles, I believe robust extraterrestrial locomotion will serve as the bedrock for future human settlement beyond our planet.”

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The Boys spin-off about college for young supes in the works at Amazon

A college for supes?! The Boys have their work cut out for them as a new spin-off show is on the fast track. Well this is just diabolical! In the thick of The Boys season 2, which shifted to a weekly release format complete with its own after-show, Amazon is going big with the R-rated…

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A college for supes?! The Boys have their work cut out for them as a new spin-off show is on the fast track.

Well this is just diabolical! In the thick of The Boys season 2, which shifted to a weekly release format complete with its own after-show, Amazon is going big with the R-rated superhero satire by fast-tracking development of a new spin-off series.

Also produced by Sony Pictures Television, the show is set at America’s only college exclusively for young adult superheroes, which is run by Vought International. Amazon describes the show as an “irreverent, R-rated series that explores the lives of hormonal, competitive Supes as they put their physical, sexual, and moral boundaries to the test, competing for the best contracts in the best cities. Part college show, part Hunger Games — with all the heart, satire and raunch of The Boys.”

Jasper Savage/Amazon Studios

Craig Rosenberg, an executive producer and writer on The Boys who notably penned this season’s whale episode, is writing the pilot. He will also be serving as showrunner and executive producer. Eric Kripke, showrunner of The Boys proper, will also serve as EP with Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver, Neal H. Moritz, Pavun Shetty, and The Boys comic creators Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson.

The Boys takes place in a world where superheroes are real. Not only that, they’re a—holes. The Seven, America’s premiere superhero team, are as corrupt as they come — seconded only by Vought, their corporate overlords. Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Erin Moriarty, Antony Starr, Chace Crawford, Karen Fukuhara, and more star.
“What Garth created, one of my favorite parts about it is this whole universe,” Kripke told EW ahead of this year’s premiere. He was specifically noting how Eagle the Archer (Langston Kerman) and Stormfront (Aya Cash), two characters from a team called Payback in the comics, were introduced in season 2. Soldier Boy, another Payback member, will arrive in the already greenlit third season, played by Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles.

“The show’s a whole world, and there are characters that we’ll be introducing in season 3 that might not come out for a couple years but will,” he added.
Season 2, which launched earlier this month, had the most-watched global launch of an Amazon Original series, nearly doubling the worldwide viewership of season 1 in its first two weeks. While season 1 premiered all at once last year, season 2 dropped the first three episodes simultaneously before shifting to a weekly format.

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The Boys (TV Series)

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Seth Rogen
Evan Goldberg
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NFL streaming: Best ways to watch 2020 football live today without cable – CNET

When it comes to streaming the NFL, options abound. David Katzmaier/CNET With the 2020 NFL season now underway, there are plenty of options for following the most popular sport in the US. Paying up for a cable subscription is the simplest solution. It allows you to watch your local team and a bunch of other…

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When it comes to streaming the NFL, options abound.
David Katzmaier/CNET
With the 2020 NFL season now underway, there are plenty of options for following the most popular sport in the US. Paying up for a cable subscription is the simplest solution. It allows you to watch your local team and a bunch of other teams without worrying about which channels are available. For cord-cutters who want to save some money, however, NFL football streaming options get a bit more complicated. Your best bet is to subscribe to a live TV streaming service but the sheer number of channels that carry live games — local CBS, NBC and Fox channels, as well as the national feeds of NFL Network and ESPN — means you’ll either have to get a relatively expensive service or make a compromise and miss some games every week. (Editors’ note: CNET and CBS are both owned by ViacomCBS.)

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The only way to get a full football experience is to have a whole litany of channels from your TV provider. Sunday NFC games are largely on Fox, AFC games are on CBS and Sunday night football is on NBC. Monday night football is only on ESPN. Though Fox has most Thursday night games, there are several that are NFL Network-only (and streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch). With all that in mind, we offer our recommendations for the best way to watch NFL without cable. Read more: YouTube TV vs. Hulu vs. Sling TV vs. Philo vs. FuboTV vs. AT&T TV Now: 100 channels compared Best for everything: YouTube TV Last year our streaming service pick for NFL fans was PlayStation Vue at $55 a month, but Sony shut down its service earlier this year. That leaves cord-cutters with two more expensive options.  At $65 per month each, a FuboTV Family plan and regular YouTube TV subscription check all the NFL channel boxes. Local channels CBS, NBC and Fox are included in many markets, as are ESPN and the NFL Network, so you can watch Monday night, Thursday night and Sunday night.  Want RedZone for following your fantasy team? That’s available on either service as part of an add-on for an extra $11 per month. YouTube TV users can add the Sports Plus add-on by clicking on your profile and going to Settings, then the Membership tab. FuboTV users can go into My Profile and choose Manage Add-ons for its Sports Plus offering.  Both YouTube TV and FuboTV’s Family plan allow for three simultaneous streams, with YouTube offering unlimited cloud DVR and FuboTV offering 500 hours of storage. The two services are widely available too, with apps on iOS and Android, the web and on TVs through Roku, Chromecast, Android TV, Apple TV and Fire TV. If we had to choose between the two, we’d recommend YouTube TV overall. While FuboTV does get points for broadcasting the Fox Thursday night games in 4K, YouTube TV has access to Turner channels like TNT, TBS and CNN, as well as PBS, and a superior DVR.  FuboTV’s base plan, called Standard, is available for $60 per month and offers the same channels as the Family plan, so it may be an option for football fans who want to save a bit. But since it offers a paltry 30-hour DVR and just two simultaneous streams, we think the extra $5 is worth it. Also, the Standard plan is incredibly difficult for new customers to find on FuboTV’s site.
Sarah Tew/CNET
Many other live TV streaming services carry those local channels and ESPN, but most lack NFL Network and RedZone. Hulu with Live TV and AT&T TV Now (formerly DirecTV Now) lack both. Sling TV’s Orange and Blue plan for $45 a month gets you ESPN, and, in select major markets, Fox and/or NBC, but you’ll still lack CBS. During Week 1 the streaming service reached a deal with the NFL to restore the NFL Network to its Sling Blue package and bring RedZone back to its $10 per month Sports Extra add-on. The chart below sums it all up. The base price is listed after the service name, while a dollar sign indicates that the channel is available for an additional fee.  NFL channels on live TV services compared

Channel

Sling Orange ($30)

Sling Blue ($30)

Hulu with Live TV ($55)

AT&T TV Now ($55)

YouTube TV ($65)

FuboTV ($65)

CBS

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Fox

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

NBC

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

ESPN

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

NFL Network

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

NFL RedZone

No

$

No

No

$

$

Budget alternative for NFC fans in big cities: Sling Blue Those looking to save some cash might want to check out Sling Blue for $30 a month. While it lacks ESPN, meaning you’ll miss out on Monday Night Football, in select markets you’ll be able to get Fox and NBC. The catch is that those markets are mainly in big cities, so if you live outside one of those areas, Sling Blue might not be for you.  The NFL and Dish agreement during Week 1 restored the NFL Network to the Sling Blue package while allowing sports fans to add RedZone through the company’s $10 per month Sports Extra add-on. Fox, of course, broadcasts most NFC and Thursday night games (with the others on NFL Network), while NBC has Sunday Night Football. CBS, which broadcasts the bulk of AFC games, isn’t included on Sling at all. Of course, an antenna can fill those local channel gaps.  Read more: Best TVs for 2020

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Live TV streaming services for cord cutters: How to choose…

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Budget alternatives: CBS All Access, Locast or an antenna There are some apps that offer CBS’ slate of Sunday AFC games live, including CBS All Access for $6 per month. Depending on where you live, however, your local CBS station (and those NFL games) might not be available. CBS offers livestreaming services in many markets; you can check for yourself if your area has live CBS streaming here.  Read more: Best TV antennas for cord-cutters, starting at just $10 Locast, meanwhile, is 100% free. It’s currently offered in only 23 cities, however, and not all will have CBS, Fox and NBC.  And as we mentioned above, an over-the-air antenna connected to your TV provides another free option, no streaming required, as long as you have good reception.  Local and prime-time games will also be available to watch for free on your iOS or Android phone or tablet through the Yahoo Sports app. Some games, like next Thursday’s Bengals and Browns matchup on NFL Network, will require you to be on a cellular connection and not on Wi-Fi due to “rights restrictions.” Keep that in mind if you’re on a limited data plan. Read more: Best soundbars for 2020
Sarah Tew/CNET
Thursday Night Football: NFL Network, Fox, Amazon Prime and Twitch Thursday Night Football is probably the most complicated part of the NFL streaming schedule. Most games will be available on the NFL Network, Fox, Amazon Prime Video and Twitch. Read more: Best AV receivers under $500 in 2020 A handful of Thursday games, however, are being shown exclusively on NFL Network. This includes Week 2’s Bengals-Browns tilt as well as Week 3’s Dolphins vs. Jaguars game, and Week 4’s Broncos-Jets game. The Week 15 and Week 16 Saturday doubleheaders are also NFL Network exclusives.  The Christmas Day matchup (or “Thursday Night Football on a Friday”) between the Vikings and Saints in Week 16, however, will be shown on all platforms: Fox, NFL Network, Amazon Prime Video and Twitch.  As mentioned above, if you want the NFL Network you’re going to need FuboTV or YouTube TV or use the Yahoo Sports app.  RedZone options A frequent fan-favorite method of following all the NFL action, RedZone is a way to catch every big play around the league. The cheapest road to RedZone is through YouTube TV or FuboTV and getting either of their respective $11 per month sports add-ons.  If you’re fine with watching on your phone, the NFL offers RedZone as an in-app subscription for $35 for the season. While one of the cheapest options for getting RedZone, as The TV Answer Man points out, it is a bit tricky to find this option and you will only be able to watch through the NFL app on your iPhone or Android phone. Once in the app, click on the profile icon in the upper-right corner. You’ll see a section labeled “Subscriptions” with a line for NFL RedZone. Tap “Access” and you should be able to sign up.  With Dish making peace with the NFL, Sling TV Blue and Sports Extra is another option. This will run $40 per month ($30 for Sling Blue plus $10 for Sports Extra add-on), but can be streamed on a host of devices including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and in web browsers. Sling is currently offering RedZone and Sports Extra for free for one month for new Sling Blue subscribers. Note: If you only subscribe to Sling’s Orange package you won’t be able to get RedZone in Sports Extra. Your base package needs to be either Sling Blue or its larger Sling Blue Plus Orange bundle to be able to get RedZone as an add-on.  What about Sunday Ticket?  NFL Sunday Ticket is still largely limited to DirecTV satellite subscribers, though those who live in buildings that can’t add a satellite dish can get a streaming version to watch football starting at $294 for its To Go package, or $396 for a Max package that includes the RedZone channel (a student version is also available for $100). You can check your address on the Sunday Ticket site. The problem here, however, is even if you’re eligible it doesn’t include your local games. You can only watch Sunday games that aren’t being broadcast on CBS, Fox or NBC in your area. 

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Breonna Taylor lawyer slams ‘sham’ proceedings

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A lawyer for Breonna Taylor’s family has called the grand jury proceedings a “sham” that has shown racial inequalities in the US justice system.Ms Taylor, a black hospital worker, was shot six times and killed aged 26 when police raided her home on 13 March.On Wednesday, a grand jury in Kentucky returned a minor felony charge against one of three officers, for shots that hit a neighbouring apartment. Two officers have been shot amid protests sparked by the decision.The individual indicted in the Taylor case is Brett Hankison, who was fired from the force in June. He faces three counts of “wanton endangerment in the first degree”.Under Kentucky law, wanton endangerment applies to an act of “extreme indifference to the value of human life”. It is the lowest-level felony and carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison per count.Ms Taylor’s family had called for the arrest of all three officers, but the grand jury – a panel drawn from members of the public to determine whether there is enough evidence to pursue a prosecution – has declined to do so.
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Media captionLarge crowds demonstrated in Louisville over the decision not to prosecute police for Breonna Taylor’s killingAttorney Ben Crump said in a tweet: “The grand jury proceedings were a SHAM. The ‘wanton endangerment’ charge is an example of America’s 2 justice systems – protecting white neighbours & ignoring the death of a black woman.””We’ve been saying ‘Say Her Name’ for six months… and #BreonnaTaylor’s name was NEVER mentioned in yesterday’s indictment,” he later added.

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Breonna Taylor was an emergency medical technician

In an op-ed for the Washington Post titled “Our devilish, racist system made it impossible to get justice for Breonna Taylor”, Mr Crump rejected the notion that “every time justice is denied to a Black person in the United States, it seems the devil is in the details”.Most police shootings go unnoticed by the public, he continued, adding: “We wouldn’t know Breonna’s name if her death hadn’t happened in a season of police killings when America was getting quickly woke to it.”But now that the world knows Bre’s name, we won’t stop saying it until it becomes a kind of incantation to bind the devil in our divided justice system.”The two other officers involved were justified in their actions, the Kentucky attorney general said on Wednesday.One had been hit by a shot fired by Ms Taylor’s boyfriend, who later told police he thought it was an ex-boyfriend of Ms Taylor who had broken into the apartment.A judge had granted a warrant to search Ms Taylor’s home because investigators suspected her ex-boyfriend, a convicted drug dealer, was using the address to receive packages. Ms Taylor had no criminal record.Cases of killings of unarmed black people by police have fuelled anger across the US and beyond, spurred especially by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in May. What is happening in Louisville?Protests were sparked across the US by anger over the grand jury decision. In Louisville, a state of emergency has been declared and the National Guard has been deployed.A curfew is also in effect from 21:00 to 06:30 (01:00-10:30 GMT). Police say at least 127 arrests were made in Louisville overnight. Most arrests were for breaking the curfew.The two police shot during the unrest on Wednesday were identified as Major Aubrey Gregory and Officer Robinson Desroches. Major Gregory has already been released from hospital, officials say, and Mr Desroches is recovering. Twenty-six-year-old Larynzo Johnson has been arrested as the suspected gunman.

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Police handout

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Larynzo Johnson is accused of shooting at police officers

According to the Associated Press, the attack happened as protesters were moving through an alleyway to avoid a police roadblock as officers threw pepper balls at them. As shots rang out, the crowd scattered to take cover as officers in riot gear and rifles swarmed the area.Protests over the grand jury’s decision also took place in New York, Washington, Atlanta, and Chicago.
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Media captionKentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron presented the grand jury decisionWhat did officials say on Wednesday?Following the decision, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron – the state’s top prosecutor – said there was “nothing I can offer [Ms Taylor’s family] today to take away the grief and heartache as a result of losing a child, a niece, a sister and a friend,” calling it a “gut-wrenching emotional case”.Mr Cameron said a ballistics report had found that six bullets had struck Ms Taylor, but only one had been fatal. That analysis concluded that Detective Myles Cosgrove had fired the shot that killed Ms Taylor.The attorney general said it was not clear if Mr Hankison’s shots had also hit Ms Taylor, but they had hit a neighbouring apartment.He said Mr Cosgrove and the third officer, Jonathan Mattingly, had been “justified to protect themselves and the justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges”.

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LMPD

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From left: Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove

The FBI was still investigating potential violations of federal law in the case, Mr Cameron added.What has been the reaction?Ms Taylor’s relatives and activists had been calling for the three officers, who are all white, to be charged with murder or manslaughter.When asked about the charges at a White House news conference, US President Donald Trump said he “thought it was really brilliant”.He praised Kentucky’s attorney general, who addressed the Republican party convention last month, for “doing a fantastic job”.

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Reuters

Image caption

Crowds of protesters marched through Brooklyn in New York, chanting Ms Taylor’s name

Mr Trump’s Democratic challenger for November’s election, Joe Biden, said the decision “does not answer” the call for justice, while telling protesters to act peacefully.Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, urged prosecutors to release the evidence that was presented to the grand jury.”I think having more of the facts out there so people can see, people can truly process it, is where we need to be,” he said. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, the most senior Democrat in Washington, said on Thursday that “justice was denied for Breonna Taylor and her family”.Senator Kamala Harris, who is running for vice-president with Joe Biden, wrote on Twitter that Americans must “keep speaking Breonna Taylor’s name”.What were the circumstances of Ms Taylor’s killing?Plainclothes police, executing a search warrant, forced their way into the apartment where Breonna Taylor was in bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shortly after midnight.Mr Walker fired a shot from his licensed gun, later telling police he thought that Ms Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, had broken in, according to the New York Times.Officials say Mr Walker’s bullet struck Mr Mattingly in the leg. The three officers returned fire, discharging 32 rounds, according to a ballistics report from the FBI. Ms Taylor was shot amid the commotion and died on the hallway floor.

A timeline of the shootingWalker fires one bullet, hitting Mattingly in the leg moments after police take down the flat door with a battering ram
Mattingly returns fire, shooting six times at Walker and Taylor, who is standing beside him in her hallway
Cosgrove fires 16 shots from the doorway of Taylor’s home
Taylor is struck six times in a matter of seconds
Hankinson fires 10 shots through a patio door and window. His bullets enter the nextdoor flat

No drugs were found at the property, though Jefferson County Prosecutor Thomas Wine said the search was cancelled after the shooting.A subsequent police report contained errors, including listing Ms Taylor’s injuries as “none” and saying no force was used to enter, when a battering ram had been used.Mr Hankison was fired from the police after investigators found he had “wantonly and blindly fired 10 rounds” during the raid, according to his termination letter.Mr Mattingly and Mr Cosgrove were reassigned to administrative duties.

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