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Brett Hankison Acquitted of Endangering Breonna Taylor’s Neighbors

The woman, Chelsey Napper, testified at trial that it felt as if bullets were “flying everywhere” as she frantically went to check on her son and cowered with him on the floor. The bullets struck Ms. Napper’s kitchen table, a wall and a glass patio door.

Mr. Hankison testified that when he heard the 22 bullets fired by his two fellow officers, he mistakenly thought they were engaged in a gunfight with someone inside the apartment; he also wrongly interpreted the sound of the handgun fired by Mr. Walker as coming from a much more dangerous semiautomatic rifle. He said he believed that someone was firing at the officers as they tried to help the officer who had been shot in the leg.

“I knew they were trying to get to him, and it appeared to me that they were being executed with this rifle,” Mr. Hankison said.

The police chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department fired Mr. Hankison three months after the raid, saying he had violated department policy by shooting “blindly” into the apartment through the window and door, which were covered by blinds. Mr. Hankison testified that he had fired after seeing muzzle flashes illuminate the window, not knowing that they were coming from the officers’ weapons.

The attorney general’s office, which led the prosecution of Mr. Hankison, did not pursue charges against either of the officers whose bullets struck Ms. Taylor, Detective Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly. Mr. Cosgrove, who the F.B.I. said fired the fatal shot, was eventually fired from the department, as was a detective who prepared the search warrant. Mr. Mattingly, the officer whom Mr. Walker shot, retired last year.

Hours after Mr. Hankison was acquitted, about 50 protesters gathered in Jefferson Square Park, the nucleus of the city’s protest movement in 2020. Leaders expressed outrage, saying that the system unfairly protects police officers, before the group marched through downtown while chanting, “We won’t let this go.”

In closing arguments on Thursday, Mr. Mathews, the lawyer for Mr. Hankison, sought to shift blame for what happened partly to Mr. Walker, who he said was the “common denominator” of the case because he had fired at the officers as they entered the apartment.

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