LUIVIVIL, Kentucky – A Kentucky jury on Thursday dropped a former police charge on charges that he posed a danger to neighbors when he shot at an apartment during a 2020 drug raid that ended in the death of Breona Taylor.

A panel of eight men and four women delivered its verdict about three hours after hearing the case after closing arguments by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of danger for firing through sliding glass side doors and the window of Taylor’s apartment during a raid that killed a 26-year-old black woman. Hankison’s lawyers never disputed the ballistic evidence, but said he fired 10 bullets because he thought his fellow officers “were punished.”

Hankison, 45, testified during trial that he saw a flash from Taylor’s darkened corridor after police stormed the door and thought officers were under heavy fire, so he quickly turned a corner and sprayed 10 bullets, hoping to end the threat .

But in closing remarks Thursday, prosecutors questioned what Hankison said he saw, disputing whether he could have peeked through Taylor’s front door when police rammed them.

“He was never at the door,” Kentucky Assistant Attorney General Barbara Maine Weiley told the jury. Referring to Taylor, she added: “His reluctant behavior could easily have increased her death by three.”

Whaley also reminded the jury that none of the other officers who testified remembered that Hankison was at the door before the shooting. All the shells from his weapon were found in the parking lot, among a number of cars.

She said that while other officers were on the line of fire of one shot made by Taylor’s boyfriend, Hankison was “here, wildly shooting through sliding glass doors covered with vertical shutters and curtains.”

The former drug detective admitted to shooting through Taylor’s patio door and bedroom window, but said he did so to save his fellow officers. Asked if he had done anything wrong that night, he replied “categorically no”. Hankison was fired by Louisville police for firing blindly during the raid.

Defense attorney Stuart Matthews told the jury in his closing statement Thursday that Hankison believed he was doing the right thing and is not a criminal who belongs in jail.

“He did what he thought he should do at the time. It all happened in such a short time,” Matthews said.

A 20-year-old K-9 veteran officer assigned to drive a dog that sniffs drugs during a raid, Hankison said he was placed behind a ram officer and could see a shadowy silhouette of a man “getting up to shoot” with what looked like an AR-15 rifle when Taylor’s door opened.

No long pistol was found – only the gun of Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who told Louisville police investigators he thought the attackers were breaking in. Investigators determined Walker made a shot that went through the sergeant’s leg. John Mettingley, who along with Officer Miles Cosgrove, opened fire in response. In total, police fired 32 rounds. Walker was not hurt.

Whaley said other officers near Cosgrove and Mettingley decided not to shoot, and there was no evidence of shots from a long rifle at the scene.

“No one was shot with AR because it never was,” she said.

Taylor’s murder loomed over the trial, although prosecutors insisted on introductory statements that the case did not concern her death or police decisions that led to the March 13, 2020 raid. The jury was shown a single image of her body, barely visible at the end of the corridor.

Taylor, a 26-year-old ambulance technician who went to bed when officers stormed her door, was shot several times and died at the scene.

Kentucky State Attorney’s Office David Cameron asked a grand jury to charge Hankison with endangering Taylor’s neighbors, but declined to press charges against officers involved in Taylor’s death. Protesters who had been walking the streets for months were outraged.

The name of Taylor, along with George Floyd and Ahmad Arbury – black people killed in clashes with police and white persecutors – became the cry during the protests against racial justice that took place around the world in 2020.

A jury of 10 men and five women was selected after a few days of polling from the pool, which expanded to about 250 people. Before the discussion, the jury was reduced to eight men and four women after three deputies were dismissed. The judge declined to give details of their racial or ethnic affiliation.

The video in the player above is taken from a previous report.

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