Memorial for Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. Credit: FloNight https://commons.wikimedia.org
The trial for former Louisville, Ky., police officer Brett Hankison, who was involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor, began on Wednesday. But the officer is not actually being charged with being responsible for Taylor’s death — which was one of the most well-known instances of racist police violence that helped spark the 2020 uprising.
Hankison is facing three counts of wanton endangerment for recklessly firing 10 shots into Taylor’s neighbor’s apartment.
While the details surrounding the event have been muddied by the police department and corporate media, it is clear that Taylor was the victim of murder at the hands of the police officers who stormed into her apartment on a no-knock warrant. There have been no criminal charges for either of the two other officers involved. One of the two, Myles Cosgrove, was fired from the police department in January 2021 for his role in the shooting, and officer Jonathan Mattingly retired last year without facing any consequences. Now, nearly two years after the incident, nobody has been charged for Breonna Taylor’s death.
The police entered Taylor’s apartment that night in search of her ex-boyfriend Kenneth Walker. Without identifying themselves, the armed officers battered down their door. A terrified Walker allegedly grabbed his legally-owned gun and fired one shot to deter the intruders. The officers, who have claimed without any evidence that an AR-15 may have been inside, began wildly firing 16 rounds into Taylor’s apartment, killing her. No drugs were ever found in the apartment, ostensibly the reason the officers were searching for Walker.
The story has changed multiple times however, as the officers have tried to present flimsy evidence for the necessity of their “self-defense” and even submitted a false incident report that claimed there were no injuries on the scene. Walker was also initially charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but those charges were later dropped.
At the time, officer Hankison was outside the apartment. Amidst the chaos, the officer blindly fired 10 shots into the wall, which then crossed into a neighboring apartment. The bullets nearly struck neighbor Cody Etherton, who was investigating all the noise, along with endangering Etherton’s sleeping 5-year-old son and his partner Chelsea, who was seven months pregnant. The current trial is solely concerned with this part of the shooting.
While Hankison of course deserves to go to prison for these actions, this sham of a trial comes nowhere close to achieving the justice that Breonna Taylor’s family deserves. It is an insulting performance by the so-called “justice system” to charge an officer for firing at a wall, but not for firing at an innocent Black woman. Taylor’s family is still “frustrated, angry, heartbroken, disappointed” at the lack of answers and justice.
Only one officer has been charged with firing at a wall in an infamous racist murder that is known around the world. The white supremacist legal system in the United States is exposing itself in all its absurdity and brutality.