Ex-Officer Brett Hankison Acquitted of Charges He Endangered Neighbors During Raid of Breonna Taylor's Home

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Demonstrators hold images of Breonna Taylor and Philando Castile during an 'I Can't Breathe' Silent March For Justice in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., on Sunday, March 7, 2021.Getty Images

Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, a felony, for allegedly endangering Breonna Taylor's neighbors, who saw gunfire come through the apartment wall they shared with Taylor's home.

Former Louisville detective Brett Hankison has been acquitted on all three counts of felony wanton endangerment he was facing in connection with the March 13, 2020 raid that killed Breonna Taylor

The former Louisville Metro Police Department detective was the only officer charged in connection with the shooting, but his charges were in connection to his firing into a neighboring apartment that shared a wall with Taylor's home and not for the killing of the 26-year-old ER tech. No police were charged in Taylor's death.

“Justice was done. The verdict was proper and we are thrilled,” defense attorney Stewart Mathews said.

The verdict comes one day after Hankison testified in his own defense, saying "absolutely not" when he was asked if he had done anything wrong. Hankison also said Taylor "didn't need to die that night," after which Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, reportedly stormed out of the courtroom.

Hankison said that after police broke through Taylor’s apartment door, the blast of a gun lit up the apartment's hallway and his fellow officer was wounded in the doorway, CBS News reported.

"The percussion from that muzzle flash, I could feel," Hankison said

Hankison got emotional during his testimony. He also said he got out of “that fatal funnel as quickly as possible" so he could "get to a location where I can return rounds.”

He ran around the house to a bedroom window, which had its blinds and curtain closed, and started shooting, he said.

"I knew Sgt. Mattingly was down and I knew they were trying to get to him and it appeared to me they were being executed with this rifle," Hankison said. "I thought I could put rounds through that bedroom window and stop the threat."

Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, told police he had fired a single shot with a handgun because he thought intruders were breaking in. Walker's bullet hit Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the leg, and Mattingly and another officer, Myles Cosgrove, opened fire in response, killing Taylor. No long rifle was found in the apartment. Only Walker's handgun was recovered from the scene. 

Taylor's neighbor, Chelsey Napper, testified on Tuesday that gunfire went into her apartment through a wall that it shared with Taylor’s home. Hankison had been charged with endangering Napper, her 5-year-old son and her boyfriend, Cody Etherton.

Hankison was fired by the Louisville Police Department for shooting "blindly" during the raid on Taylor's home, according to the police chief. Authorities said he fired 10 shots during the incident. None of the shots he fired hit Taylor or Walker, 

Prosecutors told jurors during their opening statements that this case is not about Taylor’s death, or the decisions made that led to the raid on her home, but Hankinson’s shooting and the harm his actions caused. 

Prosecutors declined to comment about the verdict that came down Thursday.

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