UNITED STATES NEWS

Breonna Taylor’s neighbor testified son was nearly shot by officer’s stray bullets during 2020 raid

Nov 2, 2023, 1:33 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Breonna Taylor’s neighbor recalled her horror as police bullets flew into her apartment near her sleeping son as a federal trial for the former Louisville officer who fired those shots began Thursday.

Former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison fired 10 shots during the botched raid in March 2020 that left Taylor dead, though it was another officer who fatally shot the 26-year-old Black woman. Hankison, 47, is charged with two federal civil rights violations for endangering Taylor, her boyfriend and Taylor’s neighbors, who shared a wall with her apartment. None of Hankison’s shots hit anyone.

Federal prosecutors are attempting to do what Kentucky prosecutors couldn’t — convict Hankison for his actions on the night Taylor was shot to death by white officers. In the 2022 state trial, Hankison was acquitted of charges that he endangered Napper and her family.

In this federal case, the stakes are higher for Hankison. The two charges each carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“I was scared to death, I didn’t know what was happening,” the neighbor, Chelsey Napper, testified as the first witness called by federal prosecutors. Napper lived next door to Taylor, whose killing sparked massive racial injustice protests in the summer of 2020.

“I didn’t know what to think, I couldn’t think,” Napper testified, after saying she heard a loud boom outside. It was a hail of gunfire from officers who came to Taylor’s door to serve a warrant. After officers broke down Taylor’s door with a battering ram, her boyfriend fired a shot that hit an officer in the leg.

Napper’s boyfriend and her son were also in their apartment, and she said a bullet came within 1 to 2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 meters) of her son, Zayden, as he lay in bed. Napper testified she was shocked when she later learned it was a police officer who fired the shots.

Hankison’s lawyers argued during opening statements that the former K-9 officer with 17 years of experience was making a “tactical move” when he spun away from Taylor’s front door, ran to the side of the apartment and fired shots through a glass door and bedroom window.

“None of Brett Hankison’s rounds hit anyone. No one,” his attorney, Jack Byrd said during opening arguments Thursday.

Federal prosecutors told the jury that Hankison fired his shots after the gunfire between other officers and Taylor’s boyfriend had stopped.

“At that point, Breonna was on the ground … the gunfire had stopped,” said Anna Gotfryd, a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice. “Except the defendant wasn’t done.”

Gotfryd said Hankison retreated to the side of the apartment and “suddenly sprayed bullets into the apartment.”

Hankison’s attorneys disputed that there was a pause between the gunfire between officers at the door and Hankison’s shots. None of the officers involved in the raid had turned on their body cameras.

Byrd argued that Hankison had shown up the night of the raid to earn overtime pay, and had nothing to do with the drafting of the warrant used to enter Taylor’s home. He said the jury would hear testimony that Hankison was not the last to fire his weapon.

Hankison took the witness stand at his 2022 trial in state court and said after a fellow officer was shot in the leg, he moved away from the front door and to the side of the apartment, where he began firing. He said he wanted to “stop the threat” coming from inside the apartment.

The jury selection process began on Monday. About 80 potential jurors were individually questioned out of the public eye in a library adjacent to the courtroom over three days as U.S. District Judge Rebecca Jenning Grady took precautions to protect their identities and their answers to personal questions. In Hankison’s state trial, potential jurors were asked about their views on the police and protest groups like Black Lives Matter.

On Thursday morning, 16 jurors were selected, a number that includes four alternates in case a juror cannot finish the trial.

Hankison is one of four officers who were charged by the U.S. Department of Justice last year with violating Taylor’s civil rights. He was fired by Louisville police in 2020.

United States News

Associated Press

Nobody hurt after plane’s engine catches fire at Chicago O’Hare airport

CHICAGO (AP) — A commercial airliner’s engine caught fire Monday at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. United flight 2091 to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport aborted takeoff after flames were reported around 2 p.m. while the aircraft was still on the taxiway, the FAA said. The airline said the plane, an Airbus A320, […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

81-year-old arrested after police say he terrorized a California neighborhood with a slingshot

AZUSA, Calif. (AP) — An 81-year-old man who investigators say terrorized a Southern California neighborhood for years with a slingshot has been arrested, police said. While conducting an investigation, detectives “learned that during the course of 9-10 years, dozens of citizens were being victimized by a serial slingshot shooter,” the Azusa Police Department said in […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Man convicted of Chicago murder based on blind witness’ testimony sues city, police

CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man convicted of murder based in part on testimony from a legally blind eyewitness is suing the city and the police department. A judge convicted Darien Harris in 2014 in connection with a fatal shooting at a South Side gas station in 2011. He was 12 years into a 76-year […]

11 hours ago

Damage is seen after a storm the night before, Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Pryor, Okla....

Associated Press

At least 22 dead in Memorial Day weekend storms that devastated several US states

Deadly weather killed at least 18 people, injured hundreds and left a wide trail of destruction across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

13 hours ago

Associated Press

Biden says each generation has to ‘earn’ freedom, in solemn Memorial Day remarks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden marked Memorial Day with a pledge that the country would continue the work of the nation’s fallen toward a more perfect union, “for which they lived, and for which they died.” Delivering remarks at a solemn remembrance ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Biden said each generation must ensure the […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

Mother pushes 2-year-old girl to safety just before fatal crash at Michigan drag race

OCEANA COUNTY, Mich. (AP) — Police say a Michigan woman was killed when an out-of-control vehicle slammed into her during a drag-racing event, but she was able to push her 2-year-old daughter to safety in the seconds before the crash. The crash happened Sunday at Silver Lake State Park Sand Dunes in western Oceana County, […]

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Breonna Taylor’s neighbor testified son was nearly shot by officer’s stray bullets during 2020 raid