A jury acquitted the sole Louisville police officer charged with criminal wrongdoing in the case of Breonna Taylor, whose 2020 shooting death sparked demonstrations nationwide, the Courier Journal reports. Former Louisville Metro Police detective Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, for firing wildly through the walls of Taylor's apartment during a raid. A different officer whose shots killed Taylor was not charged, but Hankison was accused of endangering her neighbors. Dozens of protesters gathered in downtown Louisville Thursday night shouting "We won't let this go!"
Defense attorney Stew Mathews said the verdict affirmed Hankison's and his fellow officers' right of self-defense. "I think it was absolutely the fact that he was doing his job as a police officer," Mathews said. Prosecutors from the Kentucky Attorney General's Office argued that Hankison showed "extreme indifference to human life" during the shooting, which occurred as police executed a search warrant to look for drugs and cash, neither of which was found in the apartment of 26-year-old Taylor, an emergency room technician. Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one round from his legally owned handgun when officers used a battering ram to force open the apartment's front door, striking one officer in the thigh. Officers then fired 32 rounds, including the 10 Hankison fired from outside the apartment. He was fired in 2020 after the interim police chief called his actions "a shock to the conscience." His appeal of the firing has been on hold pending the outcome of the prosecution.