Two years after 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky in March 2020, the one officer who was criminally charged in the wrongful raid went on trial this week for shooting into Taylor’s neighbor’s apartment, according to the Associated Press.
The ex-officer, Brett Hankison, who fired 10 shots through a side door is being charged with three counts of wanton endangerment and if he’s convicted, will face up to five years in prison. None of the bullets that Hankison fired hit Taylor.
The race and ethnicity of the jury have not been released to the public.
Months ago, it was announced that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron would not charge Detective Myles Cosgrove, the person who fired the bullet that killed Taylor, for the shooting, according to the New York Times.
Jurors who decided to indict Hankison said Cameron did not give them the option to pursue charges for the killing of Breonna Taylor.
From the Associated Press:
Before Taylor’s door was breached, Hankison escalated the situation by yelling at a neighbor to go back inside, she said. And once the shooting started, “He’s shooting in a different direction than the other two detectives,” she said.
Defense attorney Stewart Mathews countered that Hankison was justified in what he did during a chaotic scene that lasted about 10 to 15 seconds from when Taylor’s door was breached to when the shooting stopped.
“This case is not about the death of Breonna Taylor, but in a sense it’s totally about that, because that’s what started this whole situation,” Mathews said. “Breonna Taylor was a peripheral part of this whole deal, but she was tied into it,” and their no-knock warrant meant officers had been approved to go inside.
Cody Etherton, Taylor’s neighbor and the first witness who took the stand in the trial described how he and his pregnant girlfriend, Chelsey Napper, were awoken by the sound of officers breaching Taylor’s door. Etherton got out of bed to see what was going on. He said he barely was able to escape bullets from the gunfire that went through a wall they shared in the apartment of Taylor, according to the Associated Press.
“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,” Etherton said, according to the AP. “I don’t even remember how many shots I heard because it was so chaotic.”
Per the AP, Etherton also said, “Another one or two inches and I woulda gotten shot. I would have never gotten to meet my son.”
Other officers involved in the incident took to the witness stand and said the no-knock warrant was approved for Taylor’s apartment and were told to “knock and announce” the search.
More from the Associated Press:
Det. Tony James said this normally delays entry by no more than 15 seconds, but he and Det. Mike Nobles said their knocking unfortunately drew out an upstairs neighbor who told the officers to go away.
Hankison, positioned farther away from Taylor’s door, got distracted ordering the man to go back inside, they testified.
Nobles said they ultimately spent two to three minutes knocking and announcing themselves, during which time he heard someone say “who is it?” from inside Taylor’s apartment.
“Police - search warrant!” Nobles said they announced, and hearing no reply, he used a battering ram to break open the door on the third blow.
Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, previously told investigators that he never heard officers say “police” and only heard them knocking on the door, according to the Associated Press.