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Fired Detective on Trial for Allegedly Endangering Neighbors Says Breonna Taylor ‘Didn’t Need to Die That Night’



Fired Louisville police detective Brett Hankison, 45, on Wednesday delivered emotional testimony, asserting he did nothing wrong by opening fire in the tragic 2020 shooting in which 26-year-old Breonna Taylor.

“And Ms. Taylor’s family, it was just–She didn’t need to die that night,” Hankison said from the stand.

The prosecutor made an objection. The judge called for a sidebar.

Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer ran out of court after Hankison said this.

Taylor died on March 13, 2020 when cops in Louisville, Kentucky, executed a search warrant at her apartment as part of an investigation into an ex-boyfriend of hers. Her then-boyfriend Kenneth Walker opened fire at police after they broke in. He said he did not know they were officers. Hankison, Detective Myles Cosgrove, and Sgt. Jon Mattingly, whom Walker struck in the leg, opened fire.


Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) said that the FBI determined Cosgrove shot the fatal bullet, but only Hankison was fired and faced wanton endangerment charges because his bullets entered a nearby apartment. At least three grand jurors, however, said prosecutors did not present other charges. They took Cameron to task for his press conference, in which he said Cosgrove and Mattingly were justified in shooting back.

Hankison was accused of firing blindly into the home of couple Chelsey Napper and Cody Etherton, and their child. The family did not sustain injuries. Napper was pregnant.

During direct examination on Wednesday, Hankison maintained he had “sincere empathy” for the couple.

“If my daughter was shot at, bullets came into our house, that would be very concerning, and I apologize to her for that,” he said.


The search warrant on Taylor’s apartment was a no-knock, but a police sergeant testified previously that the original no-knock warrant was actually briefed as a knock-and-announce. Hankison testified that Sgt. Mattingly banged loudly on the door to Taylor’s apartment during the late night incident.

Mattingly repeated, “police, search warrant,” Hankison said. It was so loud an upstairs neighbor complained about it. He said they got no response from Taylor’s apartment, however, so they decided to use a battering ram to break the door.

He said that once inside, he saw a large muzzle flash and could feel the percussion from the flashes. He had said he initially believed that someone was shooting at them using a rifle. (Walker owned a handgun.) Mattingly went down.

“I believe he said, ‘I’m hit,’ or ‘I’m down,’ one or the other,” Hankison testified. Hankison described Mattingly as a friend.

He did not know if Cosgrove or Mattingly were firing back, he said. Hankison testified to seeing more shots, and described a chaotic situation.

“I knew Sgt. Mattingly was down,” he said. “And I knew they were trying to get to him. And it appeared to me that they were being executed with this rifle.”


Hankison testified that he returned fire through a sliding glass door, aiming for the muzzle flashes. At that time, he did not know how many times he opened fire, he said.

“Tragedy,” he said, when asked for his feeling about what happened that night. “It’s something that didn’t have to happen. My opinion is certain actions–”

The prosecution objected. The judge sustained it.

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