Ex-Officer Charged in Breonna Taylor Raid Acquitted by Jury

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
March 5, 2022 Updated: March 5, 2022

A jury in Kentucky has acquitted the only former or current police officer charged in the raid that left Breonna Taylor dead.

Brett Hankison, a former detective for the Louisville Metro Police, was found not guilty on three counts of wanton endangerment.

Hankison, 45, participated in the March 13, 2020 raid of Taylor’s apartment. The officers were serving a search warrant on Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who was believed to be involved in a drug trafficking scheme.

After knocks weren’t answered, officers burst in and spotted Taylor and Walker.

Walker opened fire, prompting the officers to fire back. Hankison fired 10 rounds, investigators found.

Walker saw an attempted murder of a police officer charge dropped in 2020.

Hankison, who was fired by the police department for violating its rules, faced up to 15 years in jail if convicted.

During the trial, lawyers for the defendant argued that he acted lawfully when he opened fire because the officers were fired upon first. Prosecutors said the gunfire endangered neighbors of Taylor, with some of the bullets traveling through their apartment.

Stew Mathews, one of Hankison’s attorneys, told reporters after the verdict was handed down that the jury believed his client “was doing his job as a police officer.”

“The jury felt like, you go out and perform your duty and your brother officer gets shot and you’ve got a right to defend yourself. Simple as that,” Mathews said.

Family members of Taylor decried the verdict, including her sister Juniyah Palmer.

“How do ANYBODY find this man not guilty on EVERYTHING?” she wrote on Facebook, describing herself as “so tired of this injustice [sic] [expletive] system.”

The Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) said that the events of March 13, 2020 “are still painful for many, and since then LMPD has prioritized rebuilding trust with the communities that we serve,” adding that the department “respects the judicial process and also recognizes that there are still potentially more proceedings that may be held on this case and will not provide further comment at this time.”

A union representing LMPD officers said the jury “rendered the correct and just verdict.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat, said Taylor “should not have died” and that “for many, justice still has not been achieved.”

Louisville officials “remain focused on ensuring this never happens again, with a singular determination to build greater trust between LMPD and the larger community they are sworn to protect and serve,” added Fischer, including working with the Department of Justice as it probes LMPD.

The FBI, which is probing the Taylor raid, said it is “committed to bringing this investigation to its proper conclusion.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.