Photo: Timothy D. Easley/AP
In 2020, former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison fired 10 shots into Breonna Taylor’s apartment while he and two of his colleagues were serving the warrant that resulted in Taylor’s death. Hankison sprayed Taylor’s window with bullets, three of which hit the apartment of a sleeping family next door. He was the only person charged (on three counts of wanton endangerment) in connection with the deadly raid – not for endangering Taylor’s life, but for endangering her neighbors. In 2022, a Kentucky jury acquitted Hankison after just three hours of deliberations, a verdict that sparked renewed outrage in a city that had protested for months over Taylor’s murder. Now, more than three years after the raid, the ex-officer back in court.
This time he will be in federal court, where he will face new charges Violation of Taylor’s civil rights by continuing to fire his weapon after “there was no longer a lawful purpose to justify the use of deadly force.” The Justice Department has also charged three of Hankison’s colleagues with civil rights violations: ex-detective Joshua Jayne, ex-sergeant Kyle Meany and former officer Kelly Goodlett, who pleaded guilty last year to helping to forge the arrest warrant that the Police were brought to Taylor’s apartment in the first place. When they burst through her door on the night of March 13, 2020, it was allegedly to investigate her alleged ties to an already incarcerated drug dealer. Instead, they surprised Taylor, a 26-year-old medical worker, sleeping in bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.
The officers later claimed they identified themselves when they knocked on her door, an account that Walker and neighbors have disputed. When police burst in, Walker fired a shot from his pistol, believing they were intruders. It hit one of the officers in the thigh, and they responded with 32 shots of their own, killing Taylor. According to New York JustHankison then ran to the side of the building and fired ten shots into Taylor’s apartment through a sliding glass door and window, three of which penetrated an adjacent unit where a pregnant woman, Chelsey Napper, was sleeping with her boyfriend and their five-year-old son . The police chief at the time fired Hankison, saying in a statement that he fired “blindly” and calling his actions “blindness.”Shock to the conscience.” There were no legal or police repercussions against the other two officers who opened fire. At Hankison’s state trial, Napper recalled the horror of the bullets “fly everywhere” told jurors how she and her son hid together on the floor of the unit.
As a testimony from him State processHankison testified that he believed the sound of gunfire was from someone firing at the officers when he heard it and that he believed the shot from Walker’s handgun came from a more powerful semi-automatic rifle. “It seemed to me that they were executed with that gun,” Hankison claimed on the witness stand, wiping tears from his eyes. Asked if he thought he did anything wrong that night, he replied: “Absolutely not.”
Hankison’s federal trial, currently undergoing jury selection, is a second attempt to seek justice for Taylor’s death. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment in both cases. Also on his docket: a sexual assault lawsuit from a woman who accuses Hankison of using his position of authority as a police and security officer to force himself on her while she was unconscious. It is one of at least ten similar allegations against him.