(Reuters) – The only police officer indicted after the killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, during a botched raid pleaded not guilty on Monday on three counts of wanton endangerment of Taylor’s neighbors, local media reported.
Former detective Brett Hankison was indicted by a grand jury last Wednesday and charged with endangering Taylor’s neighbors because some of the 10 bullets he fired during the March 13 raid on her home entered an adjacent apartment.
The other two officers who shot Taylor were not charged at all after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Black Republican, concluded their use of force was justified.
The lack of charges against any of the three men, all of them white, for Taylor’s death triggered a new wave of the protests against police brutality and racism.
The protests have become a daily feature of U.S. cities since another incident in the spring when George Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician and aspiring nurse, was struck by six bullets moments after she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were roused from bed as the three plain-clothes officers forced open the front door shortly after midnight.
Walker, who has maintained he did not know the intruders were police, fired toward the officers, wounding one in the thigh, according to Cameron’s investigation. The three officers started shooting back. Six of their bullets hit Taylor, though none appeared to be from Hankison’s gun, according to Cameron.
The Louisville Metro Police Department had obtained a so-called “no knock” warrant in their investigation of a suspected drug dealer who lived elsewhere in the city who had previously dated Taylor.
Hankison entered his plea during an audio conference call before Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Ann Bailey Smith, the Louisville Courier Journal reported. The police department fired him in June for his actions during the raid.
Smith ordered Hankison to not possess any guns over the objection of his lawyer, who said the former detective, who was released from jail on a $15,000 bond last week, may need weapons for self-defense, the Courier Journal reported. He is next due to appear before to court on Oct. 28 for a pre-trial hearing.
(Reporting By Andrew Hay; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Sandra Maler, Cynthia Osterman and David Gregorio)