Former Louisville Cop Acquitted on All Charges Stemming From Fatal Raid of Breonna Taylor's Home

© Eduardo MunozPeople react after a decision in the criminal case against police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, in Louisville
People react after a decision in the criminal case against police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, in Louisville - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.03.2022
Ex-officer Brett Hankison was acquitted on all three counts of felony wanton endangerment resulting from a botched police raid which wrongly killed Breonna Taylor, a Black emergency medical technician who was just 26 years old.
The former Louisville Metro Police Department detective was the only officer of three charged in connection with the March 12, 2020, shooting, although those charges were not related to Taylor's death. Instead, the only criminal charge to come out of the botched police raid was the wanton endangerment of Taylor's neighbors.
On the sixth day of the trial, a jury deliberated for three hours and acquitted Hankison of all three charges, each of which carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The charges were not for the death of Taylor, but for endangering the couple who lived next door to Taylor and her boyfriend.
The couple who lived next door included Cody Etherton, his pregnant girlfriend, and her five year-old child. They were woken up by police breaking down the door of Taylor's apartment next door. Etherton took the stand on the first day of the trial against Hankison, and described the danger he felt he was put in.
"So, this shot here I believe was the one that was inches away from hitting me," he testified, pointing to an image of a bullet hole which damaged a clock in his apartment.
"One or two more inches and I would have been shot, which kind of upsets me because I think about it all the time. My son would have never got to meet me, I would have never got to meet my son," he added.
Taylor and her boyfriend has been asleep in bed when they were woken by what they assumed was an intruder. Kenneth Walker, Taylor's boyfriend, used his legally-owned gun to fire a single shot which wounded Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly's leg.
The non-fatal warning shot prompted white officers Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove, and Brett Hankison, who were not in uniform but wearing plain clothes during a narcotics investigation, to shoot 32 times into the dark, striking Taylor six times. Taylor was killed immediately.
No drugs were found in Taylor's home.
Similar to the deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, Taylor's death stirred national outrage and prompted severe backlash and retaliation from the Black Lives Matter movement, and protests over no-knock warrants. The controversial police tactic was highly used between the 1990s and the 2000s, as an attempt to tackle the United States' so-called "war on drugs".
“You have to go back years to understand why we have no knocks,” said Thor Eells, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association. “They were developed as a tool, through courts, for the preservation of evidence... primarily crack cocaine. That’s no longer the case, and hasn’t been for at least ten years. (We)’ve been strongly teaching, advocating, for other alternatives.”
The Louisville Metro Council have subsequently passed an ordinance known as "Breonna's Law", which bans no-knock search warrants, in June 2020. The city of Louisville also agreed to pay Taylor's family $12 million in a settlement for her death.
Currently, Oregon and Florida are the only states that prohibit the use of no-knock warrants.
The two other officers involved in the raid, Mattingly and Cosgrove, asserted the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying. They did not face charges, according to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, because their use of force was justified after Taylor's boyfriend fired his gun.
Hankison was fired in June 2020, Cosgrove was fired in January 2021, and Mattingly retired in April 2021. It is possible, however, that Mattingly and Cosgrove may be included in an ongoing federal investigation on the deadly raid.
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