Jury visits Breonna Taylor’s apartment; SWAT commander says he was shocked by scene

SWAT Commander Dale Massey testified that he saw Brett Hankison, now on trial for violating Taylor's civil rights, "tapping his chest" and pointing as if "taking credit" for bullet holes at the scene.

A 16-member jury visited Breonna Taylor’s apartment as former Louisville Metro Police officer Brett Hankison stands trial in her shooting death.

According to WHAS-11 News, Hankison’s defense requested that jurors visit the apartment to see his point of view and give them a better understanding of the evidence.

After everyone returned to the courtroom, SWAT Commander Dale Massey testified how he was in “complete and utter shock and disbelief” when he arrived at the scene the morning after police shot and killed Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman.

Brett Hankison trial
Brett Hankison is on trial on federal civil rights charges in the 2020 killing of Breonna Taylor when he was a Louisville, Kentucky, police officer. Above, he is seen in March 2022 during his state trial, at which he was acquitted. (Photo by Timothy D. Easley, Pool, AP, File)

Massey said he realized cops had fired through Taylor’s covered window and sliding door, which he couldn’t see through. He noted that authorities should designate a target before employing lethal force, and that firing blindly is against LMPD policy because “you don’t want to take an innocent person’s life.”

“You can’t shoot at what you can’t see,” added Massey.

The SWAT commander said he witnessed Hankison “tapping his chest” and pointing at the window as if he was “taking credit” for the bullet holes, similar to another officer’s evidence.

However, Hankison’s defense argued he had a line of sight through the gaps of the window and fired at the sound of a rifle.

The jury will ultimately decide whether Hankison violated Taylor’s, her boyfriend’s, and their neighbors’ civil rights on the night of the failed raid.

On Monday, prosecutors opened the second week of Hankison’s civil rights trial — slated to run three weeks — with evidence from Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.

Walker sobbed in front of the jury as he recalled the night of March 13, 2020, starting like any other, until he heard three “aggressive bangs” at the door. 

Walker said he and Taylor inquired who was there with each knock, but no one replied. He grabbed his clothing and started for the bedroom door, but the apartment door burst open before he could reach the hallway — prompting the night’s events. 

The civil rights trial is prosecutors’ second effort to convict Hankison for his actions that night. Last year, a jury acquitted him of various counts of wanton endangerment in a state trial.

During his testimony, Walker reiterated his claim that he did not hear officers introduce themselves before they kicked down Taylor’s door, although the defense claimed differently.

Walker claimed he thought Taylor’s ex-boyfriend was attempting to break in and fired a shot toward the ground to scare him away, and that’s when LMPD officers began returning fire in a barrage of bullets described as like being in “war.” 

Walker testified he tried to drag Taylor to the ground as gunshots flew through the windows and walls. He said he heard a pained cry from her and saw blood everywhere, adding that she was unconscious when the bullets ceased.

Walker said he phoned his mother immediately following the incident, and she advised him to dial 911. During the 911 call, Walker can be heard stating, “Someone kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.”

Forensic specialist Steve Hughes testified that 10 gunshot shells discovered inside Taylor’s residence matched Hankison’s weapon.

Walker, who expressed how heartbroken he has been since Taylor’s passing, said one of the officers told him it was “unfortunate” that they didn’t shoot him.

Last November, Walker received a $2 million settlement from the city after suing the LMPD over the raid. On Monday, he said he would exchange everything to bring his girlfriend back, WHAS reported.

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