Former police officer Brett Hankinson was found not guilty of endangering three people in a neighboring apartment during the raid that killed Breonna Taylor and sparked nationwide protests.
Hankison was found not guilty of three counts of wanton endangerment stemming from allegations that he recklessly fired 10 times during the March 13, 2020, raid. Three bullets traveled through a shared wall with another apartment where a man, a pregnant and their 5-year-old son were living.
Jurors, who heard testimony from approximately 30 witnesses during the trial, deliberated for three hours Thursday, following closing arguments.
Hankison’s attorney, Stew Mathews, said he thought Hankison’s own testimony helped win the case. Hankison took the stand Wednesday. “Justice was done,” Mathews told reporters. “The verdict was proper, and we’re thrilled.”
Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family, said Hankison’s acquittal underscored a lack of police accountability in the United States. “The fact that Brett Hankison was not even charged for Breonna Taylor’s killing and only faced charges for the wanton endangerment of her white neighbors was a slap in the face for Breonna and her family,” Crump said in a statement.
“The lack of accountability showcased in every aspect of Breonna’s killing speaks to how much more work there is to be done before we can say our justice system is fair and our system of policing is protective of people of color.”
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. Palmer did issue comments before the trial started. “I’d like to stay in bed, but how do you do that?” Palmer asked. “You have a community of people still willing to fight. So, you get up and show up.”
Hankison was the only officer charged in the drug raid on the apartment where Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency room technician, lived with her sister.
In June 2020, Hankison was fired from the police department for allegedly showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life.” Hankison said he felt “sincere empathy” for the neighboring couple, Chelsey Napper and Cody Etherton. As for Taylor, he said, “She didn’t need to die that night.”