Brett Hankison, the ex-officer charged in the Breonna Taylor case, was found not guilty of all charges. After six days of trial, a jury acquitted him of three counts of wanton endangerment related to the bullets that went into a neighboring unit and put the lives of its residents in jeopardy.
Hankison faced five years in prison as the only officer charged in the raid that ended with Taylor’s death. Prosecutors said he blindly fired shots that endangered the lives of Taylor’s neighbors: a man, a pregnant woman and her son. The ex-cop, however, claimed he was attempting to protect himself and his fellow officers, who he thought were being targeted as they assisted a wounded cop.
“It appeared to me they were being executed with this rifle,” Hankison testified on the stand. “I returned fire through the sliding glass door, and that did not stop the threat.” He added that he was unaware that another apartment was positioned behind Taylor’s.
As readers know, Hankison and fellow ex-officers Brett Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly executed a no-knock warrant at Taylor’s home, prompting her boyfriend Kenneth Walker to fire shots that resulted in a brief exchange. Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was fatally shot in the process.
While Hankison was indicted for endangering her neighbors, none of the cops were directly charged for her death. Per Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, their use of force was justified considering Walker, who believed he was shooting at intruders, fired first. Cosgrove and Mattingly declined to testify.
Following the verdict, Hankison’s defense attorney Stewart Mathews said his client was relieved by the jury’s decision. “Justice was done,” he said. “The verdict was proper and we are thrilled.” Prosecutors said they respected the verdict, and Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, walked out left the courtroom, choosing not to speak with the media.
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