By Katie McLaughlin
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Court TV) — Opening statements are set to begin Wednesday in the trial of Brett Hankison, one of three former Louisville, Kentucky police officers involved in the March 2020 raid that led to the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.
The officers opened-fire in the early morning hours of March 13 while executing a narcotics warrant on Taylor’s apartment. When officers kicked in the door, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker III, fired his legally-owned firearm, believing an intruder had broken in.
Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove returned fire, striking Taylor, who was standing in a hallway with Walker when she was shot eight times. The 26-year-old EMT bled to death in the hall. Walker was uninjured. Hankison was standing outside the apartment at the time. None of Hankison’s bullets struck Taylor.
The charges against Hankison aren’t related to Taylor’s death. He’s charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing wildly into a neighbor’s apartment; endangering the lives of that unit’s three residents when he shot 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment, which was next door.
Mattingly and Cosgrove were not indicted. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron stated that shooting in self-defense was justifiable because Walker fired first.
The Louisville Metropolitan Police Department fired Hankison three months later. The police chief stated in Hankison’s termination letter that the ex-cop’s actions were in violation of the department’s policy regarding excessive force, and “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
Cosgrove was fired in January 2021 for use of deadly force for firing 16 rounds into Taylor’s home and failing to activate his body camera, according his termination letter. Mattingly retired in April of 2021.
Mattingly will not be testifying at Hankison’s trial because a federal investigation is pending. Because of that, he has invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege. Jurors will, however, get to hear parts of Mattingly’s video deposition in a pending civil lawsuit.
No drugs were discovered in Taylor’s apartment.
Although no officer has been criminally charged for Taylor’s death, protests in Louisville and throughout the nation in response to her senseless death brought about change, making Breonna Taylor a household name. In June of 2020, the Kentucky state legislature passed “Breonna’s Law,” a bill that severely restricts no-knock warrants and requires law enforcement officers to wear body cameras when carrying out search warrants.
In September 2020, the city of Louisville agreed to pay Taylor’s family a $12 million settlement. That agreement included a promise to introduce police reforms.
“Justice for Breonna means that we will continue to save lives in her honor,” said Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, at the time. “No amount of money accomplishes that, but the police reform measures that we were able to get passed as a part of this settlement mean so much more to my family, our community, and to Breonna’s legacy.”
Hankison, who is expected to take the stand in his own defense, maintains that he deployed his service weapon to protect his fellow officers, and that he thought one of them had been struck by a bullet.
If convicted, Hankison faces up to 15 years in prison — a maximum of five years for each count of wanton endangerment.
The trial is expected to take two weeks, and Court TV will be in the courtroom bringing daily live coverage.
Court TV’s Senior Director of Courtroom Coverage Grace Wong contributed to this report.