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Hankison to testify in trial as prosecution rests

Brett Hankison
Brett Hankison(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 11:57 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2022 at 6:43 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The prosecution has rested its case against former LMPD officer Brett Hankison, but the defense argues the prosecution was not effective in making its case.

Hankison faces three charges of wanton endangerment for shooting into the apartment of Breonna Taylor’s neighbors, Cody Etherton, Chelsey Napper and their son, on March 13, 2020. The neighbors were not injured, but Taylor was killed in the shootout between the officers and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.

Taylor’s death is not directly connected to Hankinson’s trial, but her mother, Tamika Palmer, was in the courtroom Tuesday morning.

— COMPLETE COVERAGE: The Breonna Taylor case

Tuesday, Hankison’s lawyer asked Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Ann Bailey Smith to acquit his client, arguing the state had not proven its case, but she ruled that it had.

“The officers that went there that night, including Hankison, and clearly knew this was an apartment building,” Smith said. “No reason to believe it wasn’t an occupied apartment building.”

Smith ruled the justified shooting statutes do not apply to Hankison’s case and allowed it to proceed.

The sounds Napper heard before Hankison shot into her apartment were described in her testimony on Tuesday; Etherton testified last week. Napper said a loud bang woke them up, and she called 911 to report bullets flying through their wall.

“Something’s going on next door, and there’s bullet holes all the way through the door, through our glass,” Napper said.

That’s when she said she covered up her son to protect him.

“I fell on him because there were bullets firing everywhere,” Napper said.

Another witness, a firearms instructor from the LMPD, was called by the prosecution on Tuesday to describe how a case is handled when officers fire their weapons. He said officers are trained to identify a target before firing.

“You need to have target identification, target isolation, and an understanding of the target’s background,” Matt Gelhausen, the firearms instructor, said.

However, Hankison’s defense attorney questioned whether the rules are that simple.

“Is part of your training when an officer makes a decision to shoot to discharge his weapon at an active threat — is he taught to shoot until the threat is stopped?” Gelhausen was asked.

“Yes sir,” he said.

Hankison was not the only Louisville Metro Police Department officer to fire his gun the night of the Springfield Drive raid. He shot his weapon alongside former LMPD Sgt. Jon Mattingly and former LMPD Det. Myles Cosgrove, who fired the fatal bullet that killed Taylor after her boyfriend shot him in the leg. Walker later told investigators he thought the officers were home intruders and that he was only firing a “warning shot.”

An attorney for former LMPD detective Myles Cosgrove said he has advised his client not to testify in Hankison’s trial because of other ongoing investigations.

The Fifth Amendment means no person may be compelled to testify against himself and that no person may be tried for a second time on a charge for which he has already been acquitted. Mattingly had already invoked his Fifth Amendment right before Hankison’s trial began on Feb. 20.

Earlier Tuesday morning, attorneys argued whether Cosgrove’s deposition in a civil case is admissible. Hankison’s attorney doesn’t want it played for the jury at this time. The defense wants to listen to it before moving forward, so no decision was made.

Hankinson’s defense team will now present its case, and he is scheduled to testify for the first time on Wednesday.

WAVE will continue to bring you live coverage of the trial on WAVE Now, streaming live testimony on the WAVE Facebook page, on the WAVE apps on Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV or WAVE3.com.

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WAVE — Louisville and Southern Indiana's NBC affiliate. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @wave3news.(WAVE)