The Kentucky officer facing criminal charges in the botched raid on Breonna Taylor that led to her death by police, went on trial Wednesday — nearly two years after the shooting. Former officer Brett Hankison fired 10 shots near a side door during the raid, but none hit Taylor. Prosecutors say the bullets endangered Taylor’s neighbors — a couple and their child. Hankison is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, a low-level felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
In her opening statement, assistant Kentucky Attorney General Barbara Maines Whaley told jurors that the case is not about the killing of Taylor, or the decisions by police that led to the raid. She said the charges are focused on Hankinson’s decision to fire blindly through Taylor’s apartment, endangering her neighbors.
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. Said Matthews: “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. Breonna Taylor was a peripheral part of this whole deal, but she was tied into it.”
Judge Ann Bailey Smith swore in 10 men and 5 women as jurors and alternates to hear the case. The court declined to release information about their race or ethnicity. Hankison’s jury was selected from a larger-than-normal pool because of the national publicity Taylor’s case has attracted since the deadly raid on March 13, 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.
Editorial credit: stockelements / Shutterstock.com