Monday, March 7, 2022

FLASHBACK: Ex-Officer from Breonna Taylor Case, Brett Hankison, Charged

Source: NY Post

Published: February 23, 2022

By: Ben Kesslen

The trial for the only Kentucky officer facing criminal charges in the bungled raid of Breonna Taylor’s home began Wednesday almost two years after she was shot dead.

Ex-Louisville cop Brett Hankison is accused of endangering Taylor’s neighbors and could face five years in prison if convicted. None of his shots hit Taylor, whose death sparked outrage in Kentucky and the world. The other two officers involved in the raid were never charged with crimes, and in June 2020, Louisville police fired Hankison for recklessly shooting at Taylor’s apartment window and patio door.

Both prosecutors and the defense said in their opening statement that this case “is not about Breonna Taylor” — although her tragic death and the national uprising against police violence it helped animate are more than mere subtext.


Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was in bed when officer’s entered her home with a no-knock warrant on March 13, 2020. Her boyfriend fired at police, believing an intruder was entering the apartment. Police returned fire and killed Taylor. Hankison did not fire the fatal shot, but Cody Etherton, Taylor’s neighbor and the first witness at the Wednesday trial, said the ex-cop’s bullets almost killed him.

The botched raid in 2020 led to the shooting death of Breonna Taylor. - AP

Hankison is standing trial on three counts of wanton endangerment for allegedly firing wildly into Taylor’s neighbors’ apartments in March 2020. - AP


Brett Hankison (left) exits the courtroom after the first day of jury selection. - AP

“Another one or two inches and I woulda gotten shot. I would have never gotten to meet my son,” Etherton, said on the stand. “From the time I got woke up, hearing boom, to the gunfire coming through my apartment, nearly killing my girlfriend, yeah it was chaotic.”

Etherton, whose girlfriend Chelsey Napper was pregnant with their children when police raided Taylor’s apartment, described the terror the raid sparked for the couple.

“I pretty much knew it was gunfire going through the wall. I do remodeling for a living, so when drywall started hitting my face, I pretty much knew. I hit the floor and went back into the bedroom,” he told the court. “I don’t even remember how many shots I heard because it was so chaotic.”

Hankison’s attorney Stewart Mathews said Wednesday his client was doing “as he was taught to do” when he fired 10 shots near the door and window.

He “was attempting to defend and save the lives of his fellow officers who he thought were still caught in that fatal funnel inside that doorway,” Mathews said, referencing the shots fired by Taylor’s then-boyfriend.

Assistant Kentucky Attorney General Barbara Maines Whale noted in her opening statement that the former cop argued with a neighbor before Taylor’s door was knocked down by police and that during the execution of the raid “he’s shooting in a different direction than the other two detectives.”

Other cops involved in the raid took the stand Wednesday where prosecutors had them walk the jury through parts of the raid and the cops said that Hankison got distracted when one of Taylor’s neighbors came outside to ask why they were knocking.

Detective Tony James said on the stand he didn’t shoot into Taylor’s apartment like Hankison did “because I didn’t have a clear, identifiable target.”

Hankison is expected to take the stand during the trial which will last around two weeks. The jury, whose racial composition was not released by the court, is also likely to tour Taylor’s apartment during the trial.

Taylor’s family settled with the city of Louisville for $12 million in 2020.

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