Jury in shooting case connected to Breonna Taylor expected to start deliberations 

None of the bullets that former detective Brett Hankison fired hit Taylor, but they nearly struck others in a neighboring apartment.

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The jury that will rule in the case of the State of Kentucky vs. Brett Hankison, who faces trial on three counts of wanton endangerment, is set to begin deliberations. 

The 45-year-old former detective is accused of recklessly firing into the apartment of emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor two years ago. While none of the bullets that Hankison fired hit Taylor, they went into neighboring apartments, nearly striking several people.

Former Louisville Police detective Brett Hankison is questioned by his defense attorney Wednesday in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo: Timothy D. Easley/AP, Pool)

Taylor was fatally struck early that fateful spring 2020 morning. 

Hankison testified on his own behalf Wednesday. During his testimony, he said he believed his colleagues were being “executed” with a rifle and that he was trying to save them, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal. 

“Is there anything, Brett, that you feel like you did wrong on March 13 at 3003 Springfield Drive?” defense attorney Stew Mathews asked.

“Absolutely not,” he replied.

“Why did you do what you did?” Mathews queried.

“To protect myself,” Hankison said. “More importantly, the first, primary function, at that time when I returned fire was to protect my fellow detectives who were stuck in that breezeway.”

Hankison called the shooting and Taylor’s death a “tragedy” that “didn’t have to happen.” 

He also testified that he didn’t know the size of the building or that there was an apartment adjacent to Taylor’s. 

Taylor neighbor Chelsey Napper testified earlier in the trial that she and partner Cody Etherton plus her 5-year-old son were in the home. Napper, who was pregnant at the time, said they were awakened around 12:40 a.m. by an “extremely loud” noise that sounded “like somebody set off a bomb,” as previously reported. 

Hankison testified that he felt “empathy” for Napper and her family. “That was something,” he said, “if my daughter was shot at, or if bullets came into our house, that would be very concerning and I apologize to her for that.”

“And Ms. Taylor’s family,” he continued, “it was just, she didn’t need to die that night.”

According to the Courier-Journal, Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, sat in the courtroom as Hankison testified, flanked on both sides by supporters. 

After the comment and an objection that followed it, Palmer left the courtroom. 

Taylor was shot after officers entered the apartment she shared with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who has said authorities did not identify themselves, and that he thought they were intruders, firing one bullet from a gun he legally owned. 

The three Louisville officers — Hankison, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove —returned fire and killed Taylor. Only Hankison was fired then subsequently charged for the bullets that entered Napper’s apartment. 

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