Former Kentucky Officer Brett Hankison Found Not Guilty in Breonna Taylor Killing

Former Kentucky police officer Brett Hankison has been found not guilty on all three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree. Hankison was found not guilty Thursday on charges he endangered neighbors the night he fired into Breonna Taylor’s apartment during a botched drug raid that resulted in Taylor’s death.

The panel of eight men and four women delivered its verdict about three hours after it took the case following closing arguments from prosecution and defense attorneys.

None of the officers involved in the March 13, 2020, raid was charged with Taylor’s death, and Hankison did not fire any of the bullets that killed the 26-year-old Black woman. His acquittal likely closes the door on the possibility of state criminal charges against any officers involved in the raid. A federal investigation into whether the officers violated his civil rights is underway.

Brett Hankison,
Louisville Police Officer Brett Hankison, center, awaits the jury’s verdict in his wanton endangerment trial Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Louisville, Ky. The jury cleared Hankison of charges that he endangered neighbors when he fired shots into an apartment during the 2020 drug raid that ended with Breonna Taylor’s death.

Taylor’s name became a rallying cry for social justice protests and led to a citywide ban on no-knock warrants. Still, a grand jury found that the two other officers who fired on Taylor that night acted in self-defense after one officer was shot in the leg by Taylor’s boyfriend.

Hankison’s trial focused only on the danger he presented to Taylor’s neighbors when he blindly fired into Taylor’s apartment from outside.

Three of Hankison’s bullets traveled through a shared wall and into a neighboring apartment’s kitchen and living room with children inside.

Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and a group of friends and family left quickly without commenting after the verdict.

Brett Hankison
Former Louisville Police officer Brett Hankison, center, speaks to his attorneys Stewart Mathews, right, and Ibrahim Farag, following his acquittal on three charges of wanton endangerment, Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Louisville, Ky.

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