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'We are sincerely disappointed in this outcome.' Urban League, others react to Brett Hankison not guilty verdict

Now acquitted, Brett Hankison's wanton endangerment charges stemmed from shots he fired into one of Breonna Taylor's neighbor's apartment.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After a six-day trial, a jury found former Louisville Metro Police Department detective Brett Hankison not guilty on all counts of wanton endangerment.

Hankison is one of three LMPD officers involved in the deadly raid on Breonna Taylor's apartment in March 2020. He was the only officer charged in the deadly raid.

His trial was not connected to her death specifically. Hanikson was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into the apartment of one of Taylor's neighbors on the night of the raid. Three people, including a 5-year-old child, were inside the apartment at the time of the shooting. None of them were injured.

No one has been charged for Taylor's death.

After the verdict was read, Breonna Taylor's mother and other members of her family walked out looking defeated. Her family declined to comment.

Louisville Mayor Fischer said on Twitter that the verdict "adds to the frustration and anger of many over the inability to find more accountability for the tragic events of March 13, 2020."

Louisville Metro Police said that since Taylor's death, the department "has prioritized rebuilding trust with the communities that we serve."

"LMPD 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,” LMPD said in an emailed statement.

Louisville Urban League (Released on Friday, March 4)

"On September 23, 2020, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that no one would be held responsible for the death of Breonna Taylor. On that same day, we learned that the grand jury convened by the Office of the Attorney General would not even bother to consider the validity of the warrant for the raid that ended in the death of Breonna Taylor. Fifteen hours of audiotaped recordings of grand jury testimony confirm that no case involving her death was even presented. Instead, one officer, Brett Hankison, was indicted for firing wildly and endangering her neighbors. Yesterday, he was found not guilty. 

We are sincerely disappointed in this outcome, but not terribly surprised. There were a number of obstacles–avoidable obstacles, but obstacles, nonetheless–to achieving a guilty verdict. First, the other officers involved refused to testify on the grounds that their testimony might incriminate them. Even today, we have no idea what is happening with the federal investigation into this matter. Second, the failure to indict any officer for killing Breonna Taylor made the prosecution of the officer who shot into and through a wall a lot more challenging. Third, Hankinson is a seasoned detective who is well experienced at testifying and had a year to prepare for trial and close every angle. Ninety percent of the time, a jury will acquit under those circumstances. Fourth, and most importantly for the future of justice and accountability, we must acknowledge the need for independent prosecutors who focus only on prosecuting cases like this. There seems to be an inherent conflict of interest with prosecutors who rely daily on the police to assist in prosecuting cases, and then are expected to vigorously prosecute accused officers; this is not realistic. 

What we also know to be true is that, with this decision, further harm has been done to the family of Breonna Taylor. The indignity and trauma are more than any family should bear. We are holding them in our hearts always. They are not alone. 

We must also note what this verdict means to the larger conversation about race, justice, and policing in America. The Hankinson verdict is another marker in society’s retreat from the fight for racial equity and justice. The protests that took over the country following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmad Aubery, and more, created a window for us to dream and actually step into our better selves. For a moment, it seemed that we were ready to wrestle with at least some of the systems perpetrating disparity at every turn. But, when faced with the difficult realities–ceding power and privilege–that comes with tearing down white supremacy and racial apartheid, the white, powerful, and privileged have begun to lose their courage and ability to sit still with their discomfort. And, as a result, our window to act has begun to close.

What we are now witnessing is a massive pendulum swing in the opposite direction. We can track it state-by-state in legislation making it easier to prosecute protesters, further protect police officers, and ban discussion of historical facts in schools simply because they make white adults uncomfortable. We can see it in redistricting plans that dilute minority voting power, and in attempts to place police officers, rather than mental health counselors, in schools. We see it at the federal level in the failure to restore the Voting Rights Act and when the President, unprovoked, pledged more funding to bloated police budgets in the State of the Union address.

We see it all. We are not naive or confused about what is happening, yet again, in our country. And we will remember. After all, we will have to explain to generations to come about the time when the eyes of the world were on Louisville, Kentucky, and our systems did exactly nothing to bring about justice for a woman killed in her home by police who should have never been there."

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