After the march 2020 attack that claimed the life of Breonna Taylor, the Louisville Police Officer Brett Hankison was brought to trial. Brett Hankison, a former detective in Louisville, is not charged with Taylor’s death, as Taylor was an EMT, 25 years old, who was shot in the head by police officers.
Stew Matthews, the defense lawyer, said to Hankison that Hankison is the “one who fired those shots” that were the focus of the case. That’s not what is important. “The issue is: Why did he fire those shots? ThinkingHankison probably thought that this was too strong of a term to describe what was happening inside his brain on the night. Matthews said that Hankison’s actions could have been explained by the circumstance. Matthews said that you would discover the chaos in this scene.
Hankison contributed in some way to the chaos. However, he is not responsible entirely. The criminal responsibility of those who were has been evaded, demonstrating how war on drugs turns murder into self defense.
Jamarcus Glover (Taylor’s ex boyfriend) was investigated in connection to drug trafficking. Taylor had ended her relationship with Glover but he still received packages from Taylor’s apartment. Taylor was searched for drugs and money. However, police discovered that the package, which was allegedly filled with clothing and shoes from Amazon, had been delivered a month earlier than they were supposed to.
Taylor was not convicted and had no other evidence to suggest that she was involved with drug deals, except for her relationship with Glover. Joshua Jaynes was the detective that applied for the search warrant. He did not mention the fact that Taylor had received no packages of interest from the local postal inspector. He applied for a no-knock warrant based on boilerplate safety and evidence-preservation concerns without offering any information specific to Taylor.
Although they had permission to go into the apartment, officers serving the warrant banged on it for at least thirty seconds starting around 12:40 AM. They claimed they also announced themselves before using a battering ram to break in—a point that was disputed by all the neighbors who were later interviewed, including one who subsequently changed his account to fit the official story. Taylor was sleeping with Kenneth Walker her boyfriend. Walker said later that they didn’t know who was knocking at their door. However, he was concerned it could be Glover.
Walker responded to the chaos by reaching for a gun and shooting one shot that hit one of the officers’ legs. The three officers who responded fired 32 rounds total, six hitting Taylor. Taylor was in the dark corridor next to Walker. Myles Cosgrove (a detective) fired 16 shots. He later stated that Cosgrove claimed that he felt “overwhelmed” by the “bright flashes and darkness, which lead him to believe that “there are still these gunshots occurring due to those bright light.” Cosgrove also stated that he didn’t know if he used his gun.
Cosgrove admitted that she felt fired during an interview for grand jurors. It is surreal. It’s almost as if I believed you if you said I hadn’t done something that day. If you were to tell me something happened, you’ll probably get my belief, too.
Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly shot six bullets simultaneously at Walker, an officer who was struck by Walker’s bullet. The Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron stated after an investigation that Taylor was struck by the bullet from Walker. He also said that Taylor would have been killed within two minutes if it had not hit her with one of his six shots. Although a ballistic analysis by the state could not identify the shooter, it was determined that the bullet came from Cosgrove’s firearm.
Hankison fired 10 shots without any clear targets while he was standing outside Taylor’s home when gunfire broke out. Robert Schroeder was then interim chief of police and wrote a June 2020 termination letter to Hankison, stating that “your actions showed an extreme indifference towards the value human life when you wantonly, blindly fired ten (10) rounds into the apartment.” “These rounds created a substantial danger of death and serious injury to Breonna Taylor and the three occupants of the apartment next to Ms. Taylor’s…I find your conduct a shock to the conscience. “I am shocked and alarmed that you have used such deadly force.”
Schroeder’s conclusion was accepted by the grand juror. In September of that year, the grand jury approved three counts of wanton harm against Hankison. Each one was for the person who lived in an apartment next to the suspect’s. They were Cody Etherton, Chelsey Napp (who was also pregnant at the time) and Hankison, her 5-year old son. According to the charges, Hankison wanted “only to engage.”[d]In conduct that causes[d]In circumstances that show an “extreme lack of regard for human life, a significant danger of death to another person” That is a Class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison for each count—a maximum of 15 years in this case.
Yesterday, Etherton said that Taylor was awakened when he heard police approaching Taylor’s home. This was followed quickly by gunfire. He said that several rounds were fired at Taylor’s unit, almost hitting Etherton and the boy. Etherton stated that a professional officer should have the floor plans and blueprints. Etherton said, “They did not even know who was behind the door.” They had no idea who was living there. This kind of disturbed me. To me, it was reckless.”
Hankison was not the only officer to act recklessly in the raid, or during the weeks that preceded it. Yvette Gentry was appointed interim chief of police and concluded that Jaynes had lied about his search warrant application. In her December 2020 termination letter, Yvette Gentry wrote that Jaynes had lied by stating that he was’verified through the US Postal Inspector’. “Detective Jaynes did not have contact with a US Postal Inspector….Having an independent, third party verify information is powerful and compelling [evidence]. It was deceitful to include this as direct verification in the affidavit.
Taylor’s apartment was searched purely on the assumption that suspicious packages had been sent there. Jaynes’ lies were crucial to establishing this point.
Gentry also criticized Jaynes’ inability to prepare an operational plan prior to the deadly raid. She wrote that it was clear from the review that Jaynes should have had better control, oversight and scrutiny of this operation before the warrant was signed and executed. Because the operation plan was not properly completed, a very hazardous situation was created. Although you were the one who did the bulk of the investigation, it was not your job to supervise. [nor]His lieutenant was present at the site when the search warrant were executed.
Gentry sent Cosgrove a termination notice that same day. She stated Gentry failed to correctly identify a target as he fired 16 bullets down a dark corridor. Gentry wrote, “The shots that you fired in three distinct directions show that you didn’t identify any target.” You fired in an atypical suppressive fire-like manner, contrary to our values, training and policy.
Walker was first charged with attempted killing of a police officer. But, two months later, the prosecutors dropped this charge, implicitly acknowledging that Walker has a strong claim to self-defense. Cameron agreed to the contradictory claim of the officers, and concluded that Mattingly, Cosgrove, and Mattingly had all fired in self-defense. Cameron claimed that “the grand jury accepted” this conclusion. But one of the jurors disagreed with him and stated that Cosgrove and Mattingly were not charged as an option.
Cameron may be right to conclude that Mattingly and Cosgrove fired 22 shots in response to the situation. However, it is clear that something went terribly wrong when police officers confronted them in deadly confrontations. Both sides can claim they were acting in self defense. The way the warrant was issued created an environment in which officers could easily be mistaken for criminals, despite the issues with its content. This same basic scenario has been playing out in cities across the country for years—most recently in Minneapolis, where a SWAT team awakened Amir Locke early in the morning and killed him within nine seconds because he, like Walker, picked up a gun in response to a terrifying home invasion.
Hankison believes that the “chaos”, which he claims justified his blind gunshot, was the result of several serious failures.
Jaynes didn’t tell the truth when applying for a warrant search. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mary Shaw granted that search warrant as well as four others in the case against Glover, within twelve minutes. Jaynes failed to challenge the scanty evidence Jaynes provided to establish probable cause. Jaynes also presented no information that would support the knocking-and-announce requirement.
They failed to properly plan and consult SWAT officers. Mattingly and Cosgrove, who were placed in “fatal funnel”, which exposed them to danger, did not anticipate that 22 bullets fired in the darkness might hit someone else than the one who shot them. Hankison is still the officer who has been accused of showing an “extreme lack of regard for human life”.
Taylor would be still alive despite these failings. This is the most important thing. None of this could have occurred if politicians didn’t authorize violence as a way to deal with psychoactive substances that they arbitrarily banned.
We wouldn’t be fighting about which police officers committed the crimes of that night if there wasn’t the war against drugs. Their guilt would have been obvious for burglary, assault using a deadly weapon and murder. Walker believed he was protecting Taylor against the violent criminals. Everyone would know that Walker was correct if it wasn’t for the drug prohibition.