No Cops Will Face Legal Consequences in Conjunction With Breonna Taylor Killing
No police officers will face legal consequences in conjunction with the 2020 killing of Breonna Taylor. The only officer criminally charged in conjunction with the killing was former Louisville cop Brett Hankison, who faced three counts of wanton endangerment. On Thursday, a jury found Hankison not guilty.
At trial, Hankison said he did “absolutely” nothing wrong during the no-knock raid that led to Taylor’s death and could have killed others also.
During the raid, Hankison shot at a glass door that led to an apartment neighboring Taylor’s. That apartment was occupied by Cody Etherton, Chelsea Napper, and Napper’s 5-year-old son. Etherton testified that Hankison’s shots came dangerously close to hitting him—”one or two more inches and I would have been shot,” he said.
Kentucky Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley told the court that Hankison had fired “with no target” and “his wanton conduct could have multiplied one tragic death, (that of) Breonna Taylor…by three, easily.”
It was for endangering Taylor’s neighbors that Hankison was charged—not for the killing of Taylor. Neither of the two officers—former Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly (who retired) and former Detective Myles Cosgrove (who was fired)— who executed the raid with Hankison were charged in Taylor’s death, either. A member of a grand jury considering indictments said they were never presented with the option to charge the officers for Taylor’s death.
Nor were any of those who planned the botched raid—part of a drug investigation into Jamarcus Glover—charged in her death, despite the dubious circumstances surrounding the raid itself. Glover had previously dated Taylor, but they were no longer together and he did not live at her apartment. The pretense for the raid was that Glover did sometimes receive what police called “suspicious packages” there. But these packages came from Amazon.
Taylor’s killing was one of the major incidents—along with the murder of George Floyd—that set off a string of summer 2020 protests against police violence. People in countless cities called for reforms, including an end to no-knock raids and an end to qualified immunity, so that police officers can be held accountable for wrongful actions.
In the wake of the protests, a number of places—including Louisville and the state of Kentucky—passed measures to either limit or ban no-knock raids. But a federal measure to end the practice—the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act, from Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul—went nowhere. (Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar recently introduced another attempt to limit the use of no-knock raids.) And while a federal investigation into Taylor’s killing is ongoing, no charges have been filed.
The conclusion of Hankison’s trial shows is yet another reminder of how little actually changed since Taylor was killed in her own home, after police broke in unannounced and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker III—thinking they were intruders—fired at them. The subsequent return fire from the police officers killed her.
“This was not justice for Mr. Etherton, Ms. Napper, or her young son,” Frederick Moore III, one of Walker’s lawyers, said in a statemen
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