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Kentucky Officer Defends His Shooting In Breonna Taylor Case

Former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison, charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for shots he fired during the incident that resulted in Breonna Taylor's death, took the stand in his own defense on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. None of Hankison's shots hit Taylor, but he lost his job after her death for "blindly" firing 10 shots that pierced the walls of an adjacent apartment during the raid. When officers entered Taylor's apartment with a battering ram, her boyfriend Kenneth Walker mistakenly believed the officers were home intruders and fired a handgun shot that hit officer Jonathan Mattingly. Hankison said he believed the officers were being fired upon with an automatic rifle, and he retreated to return fire from a different angle. He rounded a corner and fired shots through Taylor's sliding glass door and window, where he could see nothing but muzzle flashes that he thought represented a continued threat to his fellow officers. In fact, the muzzle flashes were coming from shots fired by the other two officers on the scene.

When Hankison was asked on the stand if he was worried his shots might hit his fellow officers, he responded, "absolutely not." Asked if he did anything wrong that night, his response was the same. Prosecutors disagreed, alleging a clearly unjustified use of force. In opening statements, the prosecutor emphasized that the focus of the case should be on the justification of Hankison's shots, where they ended up, and the near-harm they caused, not Taylor's death or the police decisions that led to the tragedy. On Tuesday, the prosecution rested its case with testimony from Chelsey Napper, the occupant of the adjacent apartment who could have been hit by Hankison's shots. As the raid began, Napper was asleep with her five-year-old son and her boyfriend. As the shooting began, she called 911, fearing for her life. Closing arguments are due Thursday.


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