Former Louisville detective Brett Hankison was the only officer charged for the rounds that entered the home of Taylor’s neighbor.
The lone officer to face charges in connection to the 2020 shooting death of Breonna Taylor is expected to testify as part of his own defense this week.
Former Louisville Metropolitan Police Department detective Brett Hankison has been charged with three counts of wanton endangerment. Of the three officers who entered the apartment Taylor shared with boyfriend Kenneth Walker and unleashed a barrage of bullets, killing the emergency medical technician, only Hankison was charged for the rounds that entered her neighbor’s home.
In this September 2020 handout photo provided by the Shelby County Detention Center, former detective Brett Hankison poses for a mug shot. (Photo: Shelby County Detention Center via Getty Images)
Hankison, Sgt. Myles Cosgrove and Detective Jonathan Mattingly were serving a no-knock warrant at Taylor’s apartment on March 13, 2020. Walker said the officers did not identify themselves as they entered their home, and he fired one shot, hitting Mattingly in the leg.
Dozens of bullets were fired by the officers into the apartment, killing Taylor.
According to The Louisville Courier-Journal, Hankison fired 10 rounds through a covered patio door and bedroom window. Some of those rounds traveled into an adjacent apartment with a pregnant woman, her partner and their 5-year-old son inside.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky rested its case against him earlier this week with testimony from Chelsey Napper, Taylor’s then-expectant neighbor. She testified that she and Cody Etherton went to bed around 10 or 10:30 that night and were awakened around 12:40 a.m. by an “extremely loud” noise that sounded “like somebody set off a bomb.”
Etherton, who testified earlier, reportedly told Napper that someone was shooting into their apartment. The woman said she went in to comfort her child and remembered telling Etherton to get back because “they’re going to shoot you as well.”
According to Napper, the officers seemed unclear if their unit was connected to Taylor’s.
LMPD firearms instructor Matthew Gelhausen testified about the qualifications officers must meet and the training they must complete annually. Gelhausen signed off on Hankison’s passing of the October 2019 qualification, which included shooting with a primary on-duty weapon and a secondary or plainclothes weapon.
The Courier-Journal noted that jurors heard from Gelhausen that the officers’ eight-hour qualification “includes a review of firearms safety rules: always treat weapons as if they are loaded, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, and ‘always know your target, foreground and background.’”
If Hankison takes the stand this week, it will be the first time he has spoken publicly about the case in two years.
He was fired in June of 2020 by then-interim Chief Robert Schroeder, who, according to The Courier-Journal, wrote in his termination letter, “I find your conduct a shock to the conscience. I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion.”
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