An ex-St. Louis police officer broke down in tears on the witness stand at his trial today while saying he believed his fellow officers were being killed by Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend when he returned fire in the wild shootout during the botched no-knock warrant raid.
Ex-Louisville Metro Police Officer Brett Hankison, 45, testified on Wednesday that when officers broke through the door of Taylor’s apartment on March 13, 2020, everything was pitch black.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired at them with a 9mm handgun, thinking they were intruders, but Hankison said that because of the poor visibility, Walker’s pose and the bright flash of the gun, he believed the officers were being shot at with an AR-15 rifle.
‘It appeared to me like they’re being executed with this rifle,’ Hankison said as he started crying recalling the moment Walker shot Sgt. Jon Mattingly in the leg.
When asked how he responded, Hankison said he ran to the side of the house and returned fire through sliding glass doors.
‘I felt helpless that I had a handgun fighting against a rifle.’
He said that due to the darkness and the fact that the doors were had blinders on them, he fired his weapon at where he believed Walker was in order to assist his fellow officers. He said the chaotic shootout lasted between five to ten seconds.
Hankison added that the incident was the first time he ever fired his weapon while in the line of duty since joining the police department in 2003.
Although the former officer fired 10 shots near the side door of the Louisville apartment complex, prosecutors said the bullets endangered Taylor’s neighbors, including a couple and their unborn child.
Hankison is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, a low-level felony that could yield up to five years in prison.
Former Louisville Metro Police Officer Brett Hankison (above) testified that he believed Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend was armed with a rifle when he fired at police during the chaotic raid at Taylor’s apartment on March 13, 2020
He said Kenneth took a stance in the dark hallway that caused him to believe the man was armed with an AR-15 rifle (left).
He started to break down as he recalled the hectic shooting
Hankison said the incident was the first time he ever fired his weapon while in the line of duty
Hankison explained that he was at the doorway (beneath the stairs) when the raid began. He quickly ran to the side by the sliding glass doors as the shootout began and he fired at where he believed the gunman was
Hankison said the officers quickly helped Mattingly out of the apartment complex and he quickly informed incoming officers of the situation inside.
He added that as the situation calmed, Walker stepped out of the apartment with his hands up and Hankison instructed him to come closer as he questioned the man about the police shooting.
Hankison claimed Walker denied firing at police and instead blamed Taylor, saying she was the one to fire at the officers.
‘That kind of shook me,’ Hankison said as he explained that the raid was suppose to take place when Walker was alone to bust him on drug selling charges.
‘He was supposed to be alone. There wasn’t suppose to be a girl inside,’ Hankison said as he started crying again.
He ultimately described the incident as a ‘tragedy’ that ‘didn’t have to happen.’
‘Ms. Taylor’s family, she didn’t need to die that night’ he said, addressing her family.
Assistant Kentucky Attorney General Barbara Maines Whaley, in her opening statement last week, told jurors that the case is not about the killing of Taylor, for which the city of Louisville paid a settlement to the slain woman´s family.
She said the charges are focused on Hankinson´s decision to fire blindly through Taylor´s apartment, endangering her neighbors.
Before Taylor’s door was breached, Hankison had argued with a neighbor, telling him to get back inside.
‘This escalated the situation,’ Whaley said. Then, once the shooting started, ‘He´s shooting in a different direction than the other two detectives,’ she said.
Defense attorney Stewart Mathews countered that Hankison was justified in what he did during a chaotic scene that lasted about 10 to 15 seconds from when Taylor’s door was breached to when the shooting stopped.
‘This case is not about the death of Breonna Taylor, but in a sense it’s totally about that, because that’s what started this whole situation,’ Mathews said. ‘Breonna Taylor was a peripheral part of this whole deal, but she was tied into it,’ and their no-knock warrant meant officers had been approved to go inside.
Kenneth Walker (left) is shown in an undated photo with Breonna Taylor. Hankison said that because of Walker’s stance, poor visibility, and intense flash from his gun, he thought the man was armed with an AR-15 rifle and ‘executing’ raiding officers
Hankison testified that Walker had told him Taylor was the one to fire at police during the shootout
He added that he was in shock that Taylor was in the room since the raiding squad was told Kenneth was alone
Judge Ann Bailey Smith (center) addressed the prosecution and defense as Hankison prepared to testify on Tuesday
Walker (left) is pictured attending the trial on Tuesday. He had fired at officers who he thought were intruders
Hankison’s defense attorney Stewart Mathews said Hankison was justified in what he did during a chaotic scene. Pictured: in the Louisville courthouse Wednesday
Chelsey Napper, who is pregnant, recalled the moment bullets went through her room as officers shot through Taylor’s apartment. She and boyfriend Cody Etherton filed a $12 million civil suit against the police and city
Kenneth had shot Sgt. Jon Mattingly (above) in the leg amid the chaos. Hankison said he was in shock when the officer went down and returned fire at Walker
Once Walker fired at the people breaking down her door and other officers fired back, Hankison ‘was attempting to defend and save the lives of his fellow officers who he thought were still caught in that fatal funnel inside that doorway,’ Mathews said, ‘as he was taught to do — he was taught to shoot until the threat is stopped.’
On cross-examination, witness Cody Etherton acknowledged that ‘the whole thing was chaotic.’
‘From the time I got woke up, hearing boom, to the gunfire coming through my apartment, nearly killing my girlfriend, yeah it was chaotic,’ he said.
Etheron added: ‘Another one or two inches and I woulda gotten shot. I would have never gotten to meet my son.’
Mathews also raised the $12 million civil suit Etherton and expectant girlfriend Chelsey Napper have filed against the city and its police department, among others. ‘That´s not influencing your testimony, the fact that you want to get some money out of this?’ Mathews asked.
‘Of course we want to be compensated, but Chelsey and I have never talked about how much money we want out of this,’ Etherton said.
Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, fired at officers conducting the raid
Judge Ann Bailey Smith swore in ten men and five women as jurors and alternates to hear the case. The court declined to release information about their races or ethnicities.
Hankison’s jury was selected from a larger-than-normal pool because of the the national publicity Taylor’s case has attracted since the deadly raid on March 13, 2020.
Taylor´s name, along with George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery – black men who died in encounters with police and white pursuers – became rallying cries during racial justice protests seen worldwide in 2020.
The 12 jurors and three alternates are expected to tour Taylor’s apartment and hear testimony from Hankison during the trial that’s expected to take two weeks.
Several other current and former police officers are expected to testify.
The 26-year-old Black woman worked as an emergency medical tech and was settling down for bed when Louisville officers with a narcotics warrant kicked in her door.
They drew fire from Taylor´s boyfriend, who said he thought an intruder was breaking in. Two officers at the door returned fire, killing Taylor.
Neither one was charged in her death, though one of the officers was struck by a bullet in the leg. The city of Louisville settled her family’s wrongful death lawsuit in September 2020 for $12 million.
Walker had been armed with a Glock when he fired at the police, who he believed were intruders. The weapon is pictured at the scene in 2020
Body camera footage from police shows Walker on the night of the shooting. Hankison said Walker blamed the shooting of the officers on Taylor
Shortly before she was shot, Taylor was preparing to settle in for the night and head to bed. Her bedroom is pictured in this file handout
A neighbor described how Taylor’s boyfriend tried to perform CPR on her after she was shot. The 26-year-old victim, who was a Louisville emergency medical technician, could not be saved
Fired St Louis cop Brett Hankison testifies in wanton endangerment trial Source link Fired St Louis cop Brett Hankison testifies in wanton endangerment trial