Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police on April 25, 2005. On that night, Detective Brett Hankison shot 10 rounds at her apartment. He hit through both a patio glass door and the bedroom window, which were covered with blinds. Two of his coworkers, Detective Myles Colsgrove and Sergeant. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, his colleagues, fired 22 shots down the hallway to counter a round Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker had shot at intruders whom he mistakenly thought were violent criminals. The bullets of Hankison penetrated Taylor’s wall, threatening the residents.
These facts prove Hankison’s recklessness. He did not consider the danger that Taylor and his neighbours would be killed or injures by Hankison’s panicked, indiscriminate responses to the gunfire. After just three hours, however, Hankison’s guilt of wanton harm was unanimously ruled out by the jury. This decision shows how hard it can be to hold officers responsible for excessive force, even when they are facing criminal charges. Although there have been some recent exceptions to this rule, jurors are more likely to allow cops to get away with their outrageous actions than to punish ordinary citizens.
Hankison was facing three counts of wanton harm, one each for Taylor and Cody Etherton. She also faced charges against Chelsey Napper, Cody Etherton (who was then pregnant), and her 5-yearold son. These charges can lead to up to five years imprisonment for each of the three counts.[d]In conduct that causes[d]In circumstances that indicate an “extreme lack of regard for human life’, there could be a significant danger of death or severe physical injury to another individual.
Robert Schroeder (Louisville’s interim police chief) used this language to dismiss Hankison three months after Taylor died from the bullets of Mattingly and Cosgrove. “Your actions displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life when you wantonly and blindly fired ten (10) rounds into the apartment,” Schroeder wrote in his termination letter to Hankison. “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.”
In September, the grand jurors who voted to indict Hankison were shocked, alarmed and shocked by his actions. Although Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron concluded that Cosgrove & Mattingly acted in self defense, he did not believe Hankison’s use deadly force to be justified. Evidently, the jury that acquitted him disagreed. Now we need to know why.
Hankison said that he was originally positioned behind Mattingly, Cosgrove, and Mattingly when they broke into Taylor’s apartment at 12.40 am to serve a search warrant. This warrant sought evidence about Taylor’s former boyfriend’s drug-dealing activities. Hankison claimed that he witnessed Mattingly fall after Walker’s bullet struck him in the leg. Mattingly claimed that the muzzle flashed briefly in his apartment and that he saw a man holding an AR-15 rifle. Hankison said that Walker was holding a 9mm pistol. He said that he could feel the muzzle’s percussion.
Hankison claimed he needed to escape “that fatal funnel” at apartment’s entry “as soon as possible to reach a position where I could return rounds.” Hankison retreated towards the opposite side of the apartment where he could see more muzzle flashes from the bedroom windows and patio doors. He said, “I knew Sergeant. Hankison claimed that he knew Sgt. “I was sure I could get rounds through that bedroom window to end the threat.
Hankison didn’t see any muzzle flashes from the gun, but rather from two of his coworkers’.40-caliber pistols. Hankison couldn’t see the window and the door because they were blinded. AnythingExcept for the muzzle flashes. He thought it prudent to fire 10 shots blindly through the doors and windows in the hopes of striking the “figure in an shooting stance” that he had seen as he stood close to the front doorway. Barbara Maines Whaley from Kentucky, the assistant attorney general noted that Hankison shot in the other direction than those coming out of an apartment.
“Weren’t you afraid that, if your bullets hit the sliding glass door and you were able to fire at them?” Hankison was asked by Whaley. Hankison replied “Absolutely”
“Did it make you feel guilty for leaving your co-officers in the fatal funnel?” Whaley was curious. Hankison said “No.”
Hankison seemed equally certain when Hankison asked him if he thinks, in hindsight he did any wrong during the raid. Although he stated that Taylor was not at fault, he did add that Taylor had “not needed to die that night.”
It is true. However, Hankison’s lawyer Stew Mathews tried to blame Walker for his Second Amendment rights in the wake of a home invasion. Taylor is ultimately responsible.
The war on drugs ends in death, as it does every time. It starts with those who authorize violence to stop the use of intoxicants that are not allowed by law. Detective Joshua Jaynes was also blamed for obtaining a no knock search warrant that was based on very little evidence. This misrepresentation led to Jaynes being fired. Yvette Gentry was the successor to Schroeder and served as interim police chief.
Jaynes was immediately rubber stamped by Jefferson County Circuit judge Mary Shaw without any questioning of its foundation. This was just one more failure in the chain that ended with Taylor’s death. The officers also decided that breaking into Taylor’s house in the middle night would be a safe way to serve the warrant, even though it could cause deadly confusion. According to FBI analysis, Cosgrove was the final link that shot the bullet which killed Taylor.
Gentry stated in her December 2020 termination letter that he had failed to properly identify a target when he shot 16 shots down a hallway. She wrote that the shots she fired were in three distinct directions and showed that he did not target a particular target. You fired in an appropriate manner for suppressive fire. This is contrary to our values, training and policy. Cosgrove—who, like Hankison, mistook police gunfire (Mattingly’s) for shots fired by Walker—later said he was not even consciously aware that he had used his gun.
Cameron decided, however that Mattingly was responsible for his actions in these circumstances. The grand jury said they were not even considered. Mathews concluded by observing that Brett Hankison was the only one charged with wanton harm for similar conduct.
Taylor’s relatives would likely choose harsher words to explain the fact that Taylor was not held criminally responsible in her death. Hankison’s behavior was shocking even though it is difficult to believe that Hankison failed in her criminal responsibility. Hankison wasn’t under any fire. However, he thought that it would be a smart idea to help his coworkers by firing his gun in their direction. This was because he had an erroneous perception of the interior of an apartment.
The observation that police work is dangerous, or that Hankison was in a high-stress situation, or that he was concerned about his colleagues’ welfare, cannot possibly justify the decisions he made that night—decisions that he stands by even in retrospect. Mathews said after the verdict, “It is a great day for law enforcement.” It was actually a terrible day for police officers with conscience who realize the dangers of their power being misused. It was also a terrible day for any cop that believes Hankison did not do anything wrong.