Brett Hankison Breonna Taylor
Former Louisville Police officer Brett Hankison is questioned by prosecution as he discusses his position during the attempted execution of a search warrant in Louisville, Kentucky, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, Pool)
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By Dylan Lovan, AP

A former Kentucky police officer was found not guilty Thursday on charges he endangered neighbors the night he fired into Breonna Taylor’s apartment during a botched drug raid that resulted in Taylor’s death.

The panel of eight men and four women delivered its verdict for Brett Hankison about three hours after it took the case following closing arguments from prosecution and defense attorneys.

None of the officers involved in the March 13, 2020, raid were charged with Taylor’s death, and Hankison did not fire any of the bullets that killed the 26-year-old Black woman. His acquittal likely closes the door on the possibility of state criminal charges against any of the officers involved in the raid. A federal investigation into whether the officers violated his civil rights is underway.

Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and a group of friends and family left quickly without commenting after the verdict.

Breonna Taylor
Breonna Taylor

Hankison did not appear outside the courtroom after the verdict was read. But his attorney Stewart Mathews said he and his client were “thrilled.”

Asked what might have swayed the jury, Mathews replied, “I think it was absolutely the fact that he was doing his job as a police officer.”

Stewart Mathews, right, the attorney for former Louisville Police officer Brett Hankison speaks to the media following Hankison’s acquittal on three counts of wanton endangerment, Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Louisville, Ky. Hankison was charged with wanton endangerment for shooting through Breonna Taylor’s apartment into the home of her neighbors during botched police raid that killed Taylor. Behind Mathews is co-council Ibrahim Farag. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, Pool)

Assistant Kentucky Attorney General Barbara Maines Whaley said she respected the jury’s verdict but had no further comment.

Prosecutors stressed in opening statements that the case wasn’t about Taylor’s death or the police decisions that led to the raid. Jurors were shown a single image of her body, barely discernible at the end of the hallway.

Assistant Kentucky Attorney General Barbara Maines Whaley gives her closing arguments to the jury in the trial of Brett Hankison, Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Louisville, Ky.  (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, Pool)

Taylor had been settling down for bed when officers arrived at her door. She was shot multiple times in her hallway and died at the scene.

Protesters filled the streets for months after Kentucky Attorney General David Cameron’s office declined to seek charges against any of the officers in connection to Taylor’s death. Taylor’s name and those of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery — Black men who died in encounters with police and white pursuers — became rallying cries during racial justice protests seen across the nation in 2020.

Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, said she was not surprised by the verdict. Black residents of the city, she explained, had already been “experiencing a certain amount of frustration,” because no officer had been charged for Taylor’s death.

“I think there are a lot of people who are disappointed. It is very disheartening, but I have to tell you, it’s just not surprising,” she said. “It just doesn’t feel like an optimistic day for policing, for Black people, for our entire community.”

Louisville Mayer Greg Fischer said the jury’s verdict added to the “frustration and anger of many over the inability to find more accountability for the tragic events of March 13, 2020.”

“While the conduct considered in this case was not specific to Breonna Taylor’s death, the fact remains that she should not have died that night, and I know that for many, justice has still not been achieved,” he said.

Fatal Police Shooting Louisville
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Fischer cited some of the changes Louisville metro government has made since Taylor’s death, such as banning so-called no-knock warrants and conducting a top-to-bottom review of the police department.

Hankison, 45, had been charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing through sliding-glass side doors and a window of Taylor’s apartment during the raid. Multiple bullets passed through the wall of a neighboring apartment, and prosecutors said Hankison endangered the lives of a pregnant woman, her young child and her boyfriend who lived there.

Hankison’s attorneys never contested the ballistics evidence, but said he fired 10 bullets because he thought his fellow officers were “being executed.”

One of those officers, Sgt. John Mattingly, was hit in the leg by a bullet from a handgun fired by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who said he thought intruders were breaking in.

“The jury felt like you go out and perform your duty and your brother officer gets shot, you got a right to defend yourself,” Mathews said of Hankison’s acquittal. “Simple as that.”

Taylor was killed in the fire returned by Mattingly and fellow officer Myles Cosgrove.

Hankison was fired by Louisville Police for shooting blindly during the raid. Asked during the trial if he did anything wrong that night, he said, “Absolutely not.”

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71 COMMENTS

  1. The real issue is “A federal investigation into whether the officers violated his civil rights is underway.”

    I will assert that no-knock raids are almost always unconstitutional. The Supreme Court needs to get a case, and make a serious ruling that makes it so. No-Knock raids should be so rare, that they make world headline news when they happen, regardless of the results of the raid.

    When is a no-knock justified? Imagine a major manhunt, dude has killed some number of civilians, he has injured or killed multiple cops, he is most definitely armed and dangerous – and the cops KNOW that he is holed up in an apartment. This guy ain’t going down easy, he ain’t going down quiet, so no need to knock, IMO. Get the warrant and go.

    Much of anything less, you just freaking WAIT for people to exit the apartment. Starve them out, shut off their water, but just freaking WAIT!! If it turns out that you’ve waited all night long for the wrong person, then no harm, no foul. Nobody dies, and you don’t look like the complete idiots that so many no-knockers turn out to be.

    • ‘The Supreme Court needs to get a case, and make a serious ruling that makes it so.’

      You mean like Heller?

      • Heller said:

        “Often, the suspected presence of a firearm in the subject premises is the most
        salient circumstance suggesting a risk of violence, and thus justifying a no-knock
        entry.30 This makes sense—the presence of a firearm could pose an immediate,
        lethal danger to officers upon entry.”

        “Option One. The “lawfully possessed/unlawfully possessed” pedigree of a suspected firearm is immaterial. Because a theoretically heightened risk of danger to
        officers is present whenever a firearm is suspected in the subject premises, it does
        not matter whether an individual possesses the suspected firearm legally or not.
        Therefore, Heller and the pedigree of the weapon have no place in the knockand-announce analysis, and Heller does not change anything”

        I don’t see that no-knock warrants were declared unconstitutional. I see a lot of verbiage about police having the authority to perform such a raid under questionable circumstances.

    • something about this verdict just doesn’t sound right…making her death nothing more than “collateral damage”…..

      • “something about this verdict just doesn’t sound right…making her death nothing more than “collateral damage”…..”

        Might be thinking about this, backward. The ruling underscores that in pursuit of police priorities, collateral damage is of no consequence.

      • Yosemite Sam,

        While you are technically correct, it is a difference without a distinction.

        Police serving warrants in the whee hours of the morning where they knock a couple times and assertively (yet not shouting) say, “police, search warrant,” wait two seconds, and then crash inside is effectively the same thing as a no-knock search/arrest warrant.

        Many people are deep sleepers and neither knocking on their door nor saying, “police, search warrant,” outside will rouse them from their sleep. Smashing the door open might rouse those deep sleepers. And, either way, a person awakening to sounds takes quite a while (10 seconds?) for their brain to clear the fog of sleep and begin processing what is happening. Finally, we have the fact that some guys crashing into your home/apartment claiming to be police is anything but a guarantee that they are police rather than thieves.

        I would also add that the above is particularly dangerous for apartment dwellers who probably hear loud voices, knocks, and thumps all hours of the day and night–their brains begin to ignore those sounds in order to enable sound sleep. Thus, there is a very good chance that apartment dwellers are even more likely to sleep through the police announcement.

    • Only excise I have ever seen for no-knock is drugs, the fear that the perps will flush the evidence while cops are announcing themselves.

  2. “I think it was absolutely the fact that he was doing his job as a police officer.”

    I was only following orders. How come that defense didn’t work at Nuremburg?

    • these were detectives raiding an apartment where drug dealing was taking place…and a sizable amount of cash was likely to be present…anything about that smell a bit to you?…..

      • I’m from Iowa and if there’s anything Iowans know well it’s the aroma of pig shit.

      • And was the source another crook who was given the option of informing or a rough ride to the lockup?

  3. People, people….when cops do a raid, they are not required to identify their targets, and what is behind it. Collateral damage is simply the cost of living in a free country.

    The “four rules” are not established in legislation and law.

    • You know, like when the Philadelphia police dropped a bomb from a helicopter onto the MOVE apartment building.

      “In order to save the apartment building, we had to bomb and burn down the apartment building. All in a day’s work.”

      • IIRC, it was a smoke bomb.

        I also recall the place went up in flames because of all the gas cans the MOVE members had stored in the building. In clear violation of building tenant rules/regulations.

        I don’t disagree that burning the building down was a disaster, but facts matter, and decide levels of liability for ALL parties involved.

        Following rules/regulations in a civilized society matters.

        If MOVE didn’t like the rules, they could have lived elsewhere. Freedom of choice, you libertarian like that stuff, right? 🤔

      • “You know, like when the Philadelphia police dropped a bomb from a helicopter onto the MOVE apartment building.”

        Well, like, you know…speed, surprise, overwhelming force. The hallmark of military operations.

        • “Well, like, you know…speed, surprise, overwhelming force. The hallmark of military operations.”

          Do you know how long the standoff had lasted before the “flash bomb” was used?

  4. A federal civil rights investigation?

    The largest violators of human and civil rights in America is the current administration doing the investigating.

  5. The people in power can always be counted on to protect the “thugs in uniform” that protect them. The lives of the public are considered cheap and expendable.

    • Except for portland, and seattle, and a host of other cities that have decided to defund the police, then realized that the walgreens getting raided all the time, and businesses closing up shop, might not be the best solution. Take for example, portland, which is run by the organized crime syndicate, called “Antifa.” Watch this video and watch Antifa block traffic, threaten and intimidate drivers, and watch as the cops sit back and do literally nothing. But to democrats, the lives of the public are consider cheap and expendable. They don’t even want them to own firearms to protect themselves.

  6. Don’t do stupid things in stupid places with stupid people.
    Any one of the three can get you killed, drug dealers are in the stupid people category.

    • Yeah, everyone ignores that she was raided because she was the courier for her boyfriend’s drug operation and the cops found her rental car with a dead body in it.

    • Proceeds from her BFs drug deals were in HER bank accounts.
      Explain to everyone how she’s an innocent victim again. 🤔

      This FACT made her a FULL BLOWN partner in the BF illegal drug activities.

      According to “the real” lil’d’s mom, the family dog gets “full blown” by lil’d regularly.

      • Wait, wait, where do I look on my bank statements to see which dollars are from my boyfriend’s drug deals? That is just BS, ain’t no such evidence, I don’t care who told you there was.

        • USA Today Fact Check………….

          https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/09/26/fact-check-posts-breonna-taylor-truths-include-misinformation/3531905001/

          “Did she tell you where it was?” the caller asked him.

          “She didn’t have the chance to tell me nothing,” he replied. “She dead.”

          When the caller asked Glover why he had left the money with Taylor, he said: “Don’t take it wrong but Bre been handling all my money. She has been handling (expletive) for me and … it ain’t just me.”

        • The jail recordings the Courier Journal reviewed show that on March 13, Glover, while trying to round up cash to make bail on a new set of trafficking charges, called a girlfriend and told her Taylor had his money.

          “She had the eight grand I gave her the other day, and she picked up another six,” Glover said.

          Seems the fact checkers at USA Today say otherwise. 🤔

        • No response in three days LarryinTexas? 🤔

          Are transcripts of Glovers (drug dealer/boyfriend) OWN words from prison phone recordings, verified by USA Today Fact Check not good enough?

        • “LarryinTX
          March 4, 2022 At 16:08
          Wait, wait,…….. ”

          I’m still waiting…………

          Facts matter Larry, so does acknowledgment of said facts after you’ve dispute them. It’s what big boys do.

  7. No knock warrants started during prohibition to try to prevent bootleggers from destroying evidence, as well as to prevent the various gangsters and other outlaws of that era from being able to grab a weapon and shoot the cops serving a warrant. It was revived during the late 1960’s to prevent drug dealers from dumping their product down the toilet and again to try to prevent more violent criminals from getting armed up and shooting at the police.
    While I do understand the reasoning behind no knock warrants, it is very necessary for the police to be absolutely sure they have the correct location, and are positive the suspect is indeed at that location. Way too many mistakes have been made over the last couple decades by police on both counts.

    • The drug legalization crowd has always been [email protected] Progressive in their political orientation. And they have always been in bed with the government. They supported drug legalization with the caveat that things like marijuana should be taxed so that the government would have a new revenue source.

      It’s why I say the drug legalization crowd has never been a supporter of Liberty. They would have to also agree to accept the responsibilities and consequences that go with Liberty. And the drug legalization crowd has always tried to avoid responsibility and the consequences.

      But the armed “revenue man” is alive and well. Chasing after unpaid alcohol and unpaid cigarette taxes. And now soon to be chasing after unpaid marijuana taxes. Like in California.

      • The mental gymnastics you have to perform to arrive at any of your conclusions is unbelievable. Perhaps you should start writing political speeches for the current POTUS. Or predicting lottery numbers.

      • I’m one of the most conservative people I know, and I support legalizing all illicit drugs.
        I don’t care what people put in their own bodies, and if they die as a result, whutevs.
        Put the cartels out of business.
        Empty the prisons of pot smokers.
        Save the lives of cops doing these stupid raids.

        • One of the problem being that much like drunk drivers they tend to take others with them when they die.

        • “…….and I support legalizing all illicit drugs….”

          So, you’re totally OK with a neighbors garage meth lab blowing up and killing a few family members?

          Thank for letting us know. 👍

        • The drug legalization crowd has always been anti-Liberty. They are [email protected] Progressive in their political orientation. They are comfortable with a large size federal government that worms its way into your private life. They support the government in your bedroom and every other room of your home.

          They support the government in your private owned business. The drug legalization crowd does not support making the government smaller.

          I believe most of them are very racist people. They have always supported racist gun control. But at least now “they have taken their mask off”. And they openly support making sure that “minorities” have access to crack pipes.

          But most of all the drug legalization crowd are made up of deceivers and Liars. They claim “crime will all just go away when drugs are made legal”.
          These people do not have an understanding of basic human behavior.

          btw
          I support your right to do dumb, stupid, and idiotic things, to your own body. But I will never say that it’s okay to do it. And I demand as a taxpayer that I not be forced pay for the stupid decisions that people freely made that destroyed their own lives.

          I should not have to go through the justice system when I shoot dead on sight a drug addict who robs, rapes, steals, murders, kidnaps, breaks into and or vandalizes private property.

          A drug addict who is incapable of holding down a regular job. Where he could use the money he made to pay for his drug habit.

          “Turns Out The Story is TRUE!” video 4 min long

      • Political orientation my ass. I am firmly in the “legalize all drugs” corner because I identify as living in the real world. We have been running a hugely expensive and socially destructive “war on drugs” for over 60 years now, and right now, today, you can buy any damn drug you wish on any streetcorner in any town in America. We lost the damn war, guys, a very long time ago, now we need to quit bankrupting the nation and killing each other in order to “save” somebody who does not wish to be saved. Let ’em shoot up whatever they like, stand aside and let them die. Then piss on the corpse, I don’t care, just stop spending my money chasing moonbeams, it has made zero difference after TRILLIONS of dollars and hundreds of thousands dead or imprisoned forever. ZERO difference, after 60 years. Can we not LEARN?

    • oldmaninAl,

      We have all heard the justification for surprise warrants: prevent residents from flushing narcotics down the toilet and prevent residents from arming up and taking up defensive positions. Of course, as we all know, said surprise warrants have caused the injury or death of countless innocent people.

      Note that surprise warrants violate a paragon principle of our criminal-justice system–Blackstone’s ratio–which says, “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

      The fact that surprise warrants violate Blackstone’s principle is reason enough to ban them in all but the most dire of extreme circumstances.

      Add the fact that alternative methods/tactics exist to successfully search/arrest suspects without resorting to surprise warrants and it becomes painfully obvious that surprise warrants are indefensible.

    • Florida has outlawed no knock warrants.
      The police were getting into too many gun fights with law-abiding citizens.
      It has not affected the effectiveness of the police in the war on drugs .
      There is no justification at all for No Knock raids.

  8. “It just doesn’t feel like an optimistic day for policing, for Black people, for our entire community.”

    Sooo… an innocent person should be convicted so you get to feel all warm-n-fuzzy “optimistic”?

  9. You know what? Good.

    He’s not the one that put himself in that crap sandwich of a position. They served a warrant, announced. This wasn’t a no knock gone bad despite what the media is pushing (although we did just have that in murderopolis so it can happen and it’s a problem). They showed up, announced who they were and why they were there, and were fired upon. When bad guys use human shields things never go well.

    • The man who fired a shot and struck the officer in his femur and nearly killed him was cleared of all wrongdoing.

      • Was he a prohibited possessor?

        Well aware he had no right to fire during the service of an announced warrant.

    • This was not a no-knock. The video evidence provided in trial clearly proves they knocked, and announced.

      Facts matter.

      • Who the fuck cares. Bunch of wannabe operators with badges kicked in the door and killed someone who at the worst was dating a drug dealer. When does that deserve a death sentence. There were lots of ways to bring these two into custody that didn’t involve a fucking room clearing situation.

        • Awwwwww, how precious.
          Somebody didn’t like the verdict, so now the facts and evidence don’t matter.

          Take your ball and go home now little child. 😜

          This trial was about endangering the neighbors, not the shooting of BTaylor ICYDK.

          Also FYI, BTs BF fired FIRST. This was hardly a “death sentence” you idiot. Facts matter.

          Thanks for playing. 👍

  10. Right verdict.

    We cannot hold the individual police officer accountable for a policy we oppose. I don’t like the policy either. However, he was the third man in a stack serving a warrant for possible drug activity. One of the first two officers was struck by a bullet fired from inside the apartment. Yes, he returned fire.

    I would end the War on Drugs tomorrow if elected. I would seriously curtail qualified immunity for law enforcement.

    But the individual police officer did not issue the warrant. He did not refuse to wear a body cameras. He did not decide on the timing of the search. All of that was decided well above him. This is NOT a “he was just following orders” defense. This is to say he was found not guilty of malicious conduct. The elements of the scenario we find objectionable are not his responsibility.

    • “This is to say he was found not guilty of malicious conduct. The elements of the scenario we find objectionable are not his responsibility.”

      Whether one is a cop, or not, firing a gun in an apartment puts innocents in danger (as happened in this instance). As a private individual, you can rest assured that if you fired at an intruder, and an uninvolved person in the next apartment was injured, or killed, you would begin a ride through the justice system, and unlikely to be acquitted simply because you were defending your life.

      As a legal gun owner, you (YOU) are responsible for the final destination of any bullet you unleash. As a legal gun owner, you are responsible for adhering to all laws; whenever, wherever. There is no “qualified immunity” for non-LE.

      • “if you fired at an intruder, and an uninvolved person in the next apartment was injured, or killed,…. ”

        False equivalency.
        Nobody was injured of killed in other apartments.

        Facts matter.

  11. And the should have been found not guilty. If riots start again we need to FINALLY deal with them as may be required to keep the peace.

  12. There is a lot of misinformation in this article: 1)The Breonna Taylor raid had a “no knock” warrant, but it was not executed that way. the police yelled and beat on the door. 2)Ms Taylor and her boyfriend were fully dressed and standing together in a narrow hallway when the boyfriend opened fire on an entering police officer hitting him in the leg. Obviously he was using her as a shield, as she was hit by all the return fire.

  13. THAT IT IS A ROUGH CALL , NO KNOCK RAID ,, WHAT WOULD I DO IF HAPPENED AND IN DEEP SLEEP , GUESS I’M A , IN TROUBLE ALSO , FRAID I WOULD SHOOT AND ASK QUESTIONS LATER IF SURVIVE . WHEW .

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