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Louisville police officer not guilty of endangering neighbors in Breonna Taylor raid

Former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison testifies about seeing a subject in a firing stance in the apartment.
Timothy D. Easley
/
AP
Former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison testifies about seeing a subject in a firing stance in the apartment.

After deliberating for just a few hours, a jury in Louisville, Ky., found former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison not guilty on all three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree.

Hankison was charged after a grand jury found that he endangered Breonna Taylor's neighbors when he fired his service weapon blindly into her apartment during a March 2020 narcotics raid.

Hankison was the only officer involved to face charges related to the botched raid in which 26-year-old Taylor was shot by police multiple times and killed. Her name became a rallying cry for social justice protests and led to a citywide ban on no-knock warrants, but a grand jury found that the two other officers who fired on Taylor that night acted in self-defense after one officer was shot in the leg by Taylor's boyfriend.

Hankison's case focused only on the danger he presented to Taylor's neighbors when he blindly fired into Taylor's apartment from outside, including five shots through a covered patio door and window.

Three of Hankison's bullets traveled through a shared wall and into the kitchen and living room of a neighboring apartment where Cody Etherton, Chelsey Napper, and Napper's five year old son slept.

On the stand, Etherton described getting out of bed to investigate the loud noise from next door and feeling drywall hit his face as the bullets punched through.

"One or two more inches, I would have been shot," Etherton told the jury, saying he believed the police acted recklessly.

Hankison testified on his own behalf, at times becoming emotional as he recalled the confusion of that night, and calling the entire incident a tragedy. He told the jury that he thought the officers were under fire from a high powered rifle, and reacted to save his fellow officers after one was shot.

Hankison was fired from the police department in June of 2020 after an internal investigation found Hankison's actions created "substantial danger of death and serious injury" to Taylor and those in her apartment complex.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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