Brett Hankison, a former Louisville police officer, was found not guilty of all charges Thursday. He was charged with endangering a couple, their 5-year-old son, and Breonna Taylor's apartment.
After nearly two weeks of testimony, the jury reached its verdict after deliberating just over three hours.
Hankison was a former officer of the Louisville Metro Police Department. He is accused of endangering Cody Etherton and his partner Chelsey Npper as well as their 5-year-old son. Hankison fired shots into their apartment on March 13, 2019, 2020. In connection with a narcotics probe, police raided a nearby apartment belonging to Breonna Taylor.
Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by police after Taylor's boyfriend claimed he had fired a shot in fear of a home invasion.
Hankison was fired on June 2020. A grand jury indicted Hankison on three counts of first degree wanton endangerment related to bullets that were found in Etherton's and Napper’s apartments.
Taylor was not charged with any of the officers involved in the raid.
Etherton, 29 , testified that the raid was a "reckless" and unorganized police operation. He described how debris began to go past his head and face as bullets flew into the apartment, breaking his sliding glass patio doors.
"I could add two and two together... It was almost like they thought my backdoor was her backdoor. He said that this was what I believed, which to my mind is very chaotic. They didn't know who was behind the backdoor. They didn't even know the people who lived there. That kind of upset me. To me, it was reckless."
, Napper who was pregnant at that time, said she called 911 twice after bullets struck a wall she shared in her home with Taylor.
Napper stated, "It was so frightening and crazy that I didn't understand what was happening."
Hankison seemed to be emotional as he recounted his experiences leading up to the moment he opened fire.
According to the former officer, he witnessed a "muzzle flash", almost immediately after Taylor was pushed open by police. The flash was believed to have been caused by someone in the apartment shooting a rifle.
"The muzzle flash wasn't one that I would normally identify as a handgun muzzle Flash," he said. He explained to the court that this was a large-fire muzzle Flash that I could see right in front of me." "It then illuminated that hallway with the muzzle flash."
He stated that he believed that his coworkers were going to be executed.
He said, "So I fired back through the sliding door and it did not stop the threat."
Hankison fired 10 shots total that night. According to Hankison, the gunfire lasted between five and ten seconds.
The scene was empty of any rifles. In her opening statements, Barbara Whaley, Kentucky Assistant Attorney General, stated that Taylor was only holding a Glock pistol.
Hankison was once asked by Napper and Etherton how he felt about bullets entering their apartment.
He said, "I was pretty shaken because I later found out that... Ms. Napper had a small child in their home and I felt terrible."
He replied, "Absolutely no."
He said that it was a tragedy and not something that had to happen.
Frederick Moore, a lawyer representing Kenneth Walker and Taylor, claimed that none of the victims, including Taylor, were treated fairly by him. He criticized Attorney General Daniel Cameron for creating an argument that he believed affected the outcome of his trial.
He stated, "I wanted him to put forth his best effort to show that equal protection according the law and present a same case against this officer that he would against any other." "I don’t believe he did that," he said.
Moore also asked why Walker wasn't called to testify in Hankison’s trial.
He said, "I don’t know how you can tell that story without calling him."