Trial begins for ex-officer charged in the raid that killed Breonna Taylor : NPR

Brett Hankison (left) exits the courtroom after the primary day of jury choice in his trial on Feb. 8, in Louisville, Ky. Hankison is on trial for allegedly firing pictures into the condominium subsequent door to Breonna Taylor’s the evening she was killed.

Dylan Lovan/AP

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Dylan Lovan/AP

Brett Hankison (left) exits the courtroom after the primary day of jury choice in his trial on Feb. 8, in Louisville, Ky. Hankison is on trial for allegedly firing pictures into the condominium subsequent door to Breonna Taylor’s the evening she was killed.

Dylan Lovan/AP

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Almost two years after Breonna Taylor’s taking pictures loss of life by police, the one Kentucky officer dealing with prison fees within the botched raid went on trial Wednesday for taking pictures into Taylor’s neighbor’s condominium.

Brett Hankison, now a former officer, fired 10 pictures close to a facet door throughout the raid, however none hit Taylor. Prosecutors say the bullets endangered Taylor’s neighbors — a pair and their little one. Hankison is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, a low-level felony punishable by as much as 5 years in jail.

Assistant Kentucky Lawyer Normal Barbara Maines Whaley, in her opening assertion, instructed jurors that the case will not be concerning the killing of Taylor, for which town of Louisville paid a settlement to the slain girl’s household, an quantity that will not carry her again. Nor, she stated, is it concerning the selections by police that led to the raid. She stated the costs are targeted on Hankinson’s choice to fireside blindly by way of Taylor’s condominium, endangering her neighbors.

Earlier than Taylor’s door was breached, Hankison had argued with a neighbor, telling him to get again inside. “This escalated the state of affairs,” Whaley stated. Then, as soon as the taking pictures began, “He is taking pictures in a unique course than the opposite two detectives,” she stated.

Protection lawyer says Brett Hankinson was making an attempt to save lots of different officers’ lives

Protection lawyer Stewart Mathews countered that Hankison was justified in what he did throughout a chaotic scene that lasted about 10 to fifteen seconds from when Taylor’s door was breached to when the taking pictures stopped.

“This case will not be concerning the loss of life of Breonna Taylor, however in a way it’s very about that, as a result of that is what began this complete state of affairs,” Mathews stated. “Breonna Taylor was a peripheral a part of this complete deal, however she was tied into it,” and their no-knock warrant meant officers had been authorised to go inside.

As soon as Taylor’s boyfriend fired on the individuals breaking down her door and different officers fired again, Hankison “was making an attempt to defend and save the lives of his fellow officers who he thought had been nonetheless caught in that deadly funnel inside that doorway,” Mathews stated, “as he was taught to do — he was taught to shoot till the menace is stopped.”

A witness describes a chaotic scene

Cody Etherton was the primary witness, describing how he and his pregnant girlfriend Chelsey Napper had been jolted awake that evening by the sound of Taylor’s door being breached. Considering somebody was breaking down his door, he stated he jumped away from bed to analyze, and narrowly escaped bullets that penetrated a wall they shared with Taylor’s condominium.

“I just about knew it was gunfire going by way of the wall. I do reworking for a dwelling, so when drywall began hitting my face, I just about knew. I hit the ground and went again into the bed room,” he stated. “I do not even bear in mind what number of pictures I heard as a result of it was so chaotic.”

“One other one or two inches and I woulda gotten shot. I’d have by no means gotten to fulfill my son,” Etherton added.

Etherton stated he went exterior after the taking pictures stopped, seemed by way of Taylor’s open door and heard a person saying “breathe, child, breathe.” Police then ordered him again into his condominium, however he stated he stored watching by way of his peephole and will see a Black man being arrested. Later, he stated he and his girlfriend seemed as soon as extra by way of Taylor’s door, and noticed a physique coated in a white sheet.

On cross-examination, Etherton acknowledged that “the entire thing was chaotic.”

“From the time I bought awoke, listening to growth, to the gunfire coming by way of my condominium, practically killing my girlfriend, yeah it was chaotic,” he stated.

Mathews additionally raised the $12 million civil swimsuit Etherton and Napper have filed towards town and its police division, amongst others. “That is not influencing your testimony, the truth that you wish to get some cash out of this?” Mathews requested.

“After all we wish to be compensated, however Chelsey and I’ve by no means talked about how a lot cash we would like out of this,” Etherton stated.

Decide Ann Bailey Smith swore in 10 males and 5 girls as jurors and alternates to listen to the case. The courtroom declined to launch details about their race or ethnicity.

Hankison’s jury was chosen from a larger-than-normal pool due to the nationwide publicity Taylor’s case has attracted because the lethal raid on March 13, 2020. Taylor’s title, together with George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery — Black males who died in encounters with police and white pursuers — turned rallying cries throughout racial justice protests seen all over the world in 2020.

The 12 jurors and three alternates are anticipated to tour Taylor’s condominium and listen to testimony from Hankison throughout the trial that is anticipated to take two weeks. A number of different present and former cops are anticipated to testify.

The 26-year-old Black girl labored as an emergency medical tech and was settling down for mattress when Louisville officers with a narcotics warrant kicked in her door. They drew fireplace from Taylor’s boyfriend, who thought an intruder was breaking in. Two officers on the door returned fireplace, killing Taylor. Neither one was charged in her loss of life, although one of many officers was struck by a bullet within the leg. The town of Louisville settled her household’s wrongful loss of life lawsuit in September 2020 for $12 million.

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