Brett Hankison, Ex-Cop in Raid That Killed Breonna Taylor, Acquitted

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Brett Hankison, the former Louisville police officer who is the lone officer charged in connection with the raid that led to the death of Breonna Taylor, was found not guilty on all charges Thursday.

Hankison, 45, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots that went through the wall of Taylor’s apartment and into the home next door, and his trial went to the jury Thursday around noon, according to the Associated Press.

The March 2020 raid gained national attention and drew protests across the country in a year that saw demonstrations across the globe over the police killings of several Black people, including the 26-year-old Taylor and George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Louisville also saw protests after Kentucky Attorney General David Cameron decided not to pursue charges related to Taylor’s death against any of the officers involved in the shooting. Several members of the grand jury that brought the wanton endangerment charges said they were not presented with the option to decide on charges against the other officers directly related to Taylor’s death.

Hankison testified during the trial that he believed a gunshot from inside the apartment that came from Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who thought the home was being broken into, was from a “long rifle” and believed his fellow officers were in danger, AP reported.

No evidence of a rifle was found at the scene, only the handgun that Walker fired a shot from when police broke down the door with a battering ram.

The 10 shots fired by Hankison, several of which went through a wall into the neighboring apartment, were part of the 32 fired by police in response to Walker’s initial shot, six of which hit and killed Taylor. Walker was not injured.

Prosecutors argued that Hankison’s actions were reckless, and endangered his fellow officers along with the couple and 5-year-old child in the adjacent home where the bullets ended up, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

“His wanton conduct could have multiplied one tragic death, Breonna Taylor, his wanton conduct could have multiplied her death by three, easily,” Assistant Attorney General Barbara Maines Whaley reportedly said in closing arguments.

Hankison, asked if he thought he did anything wrong during the raid, said “absolutely not,” AP reported. Prosecutors said he showed an “extreme indifference to human life” with his actions, the Courier-Journal reported.

Wanton endangerment charges carry a prison sentence of one to five years if convicted.

The Courier Journal reported that attorneys on both sides reminded jurors often that Hankison was on trial for endangerment charges, and not any charges directly related to Taylor’s death.