Prosecution of ex-officer in Breonna Taylor raid opens

Two years after Breonna Taylor was murderedby officers, the sole Kentucky officer accused of the botched raid went to trial Wednesday for firing bullets into Taylor's apartment.

Prosecution of ex-officer in Breonna Taylor raid opens

Brett Hankison was a former officer and fired 10 shots. None of them hit the Black woman. However, prosecutors claimed they endangered the couple who lived next to him.

Jurors were told by the prosecution that the case was not about Taylor's murder. Instead, the city of Louisville made a settlement for Taylor's family. It is not enough to bring Taylor back.

Barbara Maines Whaley, a Kentucky attorney general's prosecutor, stated that the raid was not related to police decisions. She stated that the charges focus on Hankinson's blindly firing through Taylor's apartment, putting her and her neighbors at risk.

He was charged with three counts for wanton endangerment. This is a felony that can lead to a sentence of anywhere from one to five years imprisonment.

Hankison escalated Taylor's situation by shouting at a neighbor for help. She also noticed that Hankison was firing in a different direction to the other officers once the shooting began.

Stewart Mathews, defense attorney, countered that Hankison's shooting was justified in a chaotic scene that lasted only 10 to 15 seconds between when Taylor was pushed through the door and when the shooting stopped.

Mathews stated that although this case isn't about Breonna Taylor's death, it is in a way about that. "That's what started the whole situation." "Breonna Taylor was only a peripheral aspect of this whole thing, but she was tied in to it," Mathews said. Their search warrant allowed officers to enter the house.

Mathews stated that Hankison was trying to save his fellow officers, who he believed were still trapped in the fatal funnel within the doorway. He was doing the same thing he was trained to do: shoot until the threat is over.

Cody Etherton, Taylor's neighbor, was the first to testify. He described how he and Chelsey Napper, his pregnant girlfriend were jolted awake by the sound of their door being broken. He claimed that he thought someone was breaking down his doors and he jumped from bed to investigate. However, he narrowly avoided bullets that had penetrated their shared wall.

"I knew it was gunfire tearing through the wall. Because I remodel for a living, I knew what to do when the drywall began hitting my face. He said, "I hit the floor and went back to my bedroom." "I can't remember how many shots were heard, it was so chaotic.

"Another 1 to 2 inches, and I would have gotten shot." Etherton said, "I would not have gotten to meet with my son."

Etherton claimed that he saw Taylor's open doors and heard a man say "breathe baby, breathe." He was ordered inside by police, but he continued to watch through his peephole, and could see a Black man being taken into custody. Later, Etherton and his girlfriend saw through Taylor's open door a body covered with a white sheet.

Etherton admitted, during cross-examination that the whole thing was chaotic.

He said, "From the moment I woke up to hear boom to the gunfire coming through my apartment almost killing my girlfriend, it was chaos."

Mathews also asked about the $12 million civil lawsuit Etherton and Napper had filed against Louisville's police force. Mathews inquired, "That's certainly not influencing you testimony, the fact which you want some money out of it?"

Etherton stated, "Of course we want compensation. But Chelsey has never discussed how much we want out this."

The other officers took the stand and stated that Taylor had a "no knock warrant" for entry, but that they were instead instructed to "knock on the door" to announce the search. Detective Tony James stated that this usually delays entry by less than 15 seconds. Detective Mike Nobles, however, said that their knocking resulted in an upstairs neighbor telling the officers to leave.

They testified that Hankison was positioned further away from Taylor's front door and became distracted, ordering Taylor to return inside.

Nobles claimed that they spent about two to three minutes knocking on doors and announcing their identities. He also heard Taylor say "Who is it?"

Nobles declared, "Police -- Search warrant!" He heard no response and used a battering-ram to open the door with the third blow.

Kenneth Walker, Taylor's boyfriend, opened fire on Detective Jonathan Mattingly with a handgun. He said he heard someone knocking at the door but didn't hear them say "police" or that he wasn't sure who was coming in.

Nobles refused to recall exactly where Hankison was at the time of the shooting. James replied that he couldn’t. James confirmed that all officers except Nobles, who was carrying the battering ram, had drawn their guns. James answered the question "because I didn’t have a clear identifiable target" when asked why he didn’t fire into his apartment.

Sgt. Michael Campbell testified that he stood with Hankison at the foot of the stairs, which extend over Taylor's and Ethertons ground-floor apartments. He said that Hankison fired through the front door with two other officers, but he could not tell from his colleagues what he did.

"I don’t recall where he was at that moment." Campbell stated that he didn't shoot.

Campbell, who was being pressed by a prosecutor, said that he saw bullet holes in Taylor’s sliding glass door around the corner of the front door and also admitted that he couldn’t see inside the apartment through it.

Five bullets were fired by Hankison through the glass door, and many more through a bedroom window that was covered with a blackout curtain. Jason Vance also testified. The police investigator also showed photos of Mattingly's leg being sucked by the slug, as well as Taylor's hallway. Taylor's body was barely visible at the end. The defense and prosecution agreed to show it as the only photo of her.

Judge Ann Bailey Smith swear in 10 jurors and 5 alternates. However, she did not release any information about their race or ethnicity.

Taylor, 26, was an emergency medical technician and was about to settle down for bed when Louisville officers with a warrant for narcotics entered her home. They set fire to Taylor's boyfriend who believed an intruder was breaking into her home. Taylor was killed by two officers who fired on her at the door. Both were not charged in her death. Louisville paid $12 million to her family.

Her name was added to George Floyd and Ahmaud Abery, two Black men who were killed in police pursuits -- and became rallying cry during the 2020 racial justice protests.