LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The lone Kentucky detective charged in connection with the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor has pleaded not guilty.
Brett Hankison’s plea Monday comes five days after a grand jury indicted him on three counts of “wanton endangerment” for firing into the home of Taylor’s neighbors.
Hankison was one of three undercover narcotics detectives who opened fire inside Taylor’s house on the night of March 13 during a botched drug raid.
He was fired in June after officials said he “blindly” shot into Taylor’s home. A grand jury last week declined to charge Hankison or the other two officers who fired their weapons with Taylor’s fatal shooting. The decision set off protests in downtown Louisville and across the country.
The curfew has been lifted in Louisville, where many people have been charged with refusing to stop their nighttime protests after the grand jury’s decision.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said he allowed the curfew to expire as of 6:30 a.m. Monday.
“The curfew served its purpose of helping ensure that most people were home safe by 9 p.m., because our past experience had shown that most violence and destruction occurs after dark,” according to the mayor’s statement.
“We sadly saw some violence, including the shooting of two police officers, one of whom remains hospitalized, dealing with complications of his injuries. But we believe the curfew helped, by ensuring fewer people were out late in the day.”
Fischer said barriers and traffic restrictions set up downtown last week will remain but will be assessed daily.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the protests were largely peaceful, with a few people taking advantage of the situation to commit violence.
“Let me say this, 99.99% of people that took to the streets or the sidewalks did so peacefully, raised their voices to be heard, and we should listen. We should listen to the trauma and to the pain,” Beshear said.
Meanwhile, Kentucky state Rep. Lisa Willner, a Louisville Democrat, said Monday that she’s starting to craft legislation that would narrow the scope of the state’s rioting statute.
Her proposal, which she intends to offer in next year’s legislative session, would protect people from being charged with first-degree rioting if they’re present but don’t engage in destructive or violent actions. Her response comes after Democratic state Rep. Attica Scott was charged with the felony last week while participating in Louisville protests for racial justice.
“This is not any attempt at all to weaken the current law,” Willner said in a phone interview. “It’s just to make sure that people who are peacefully protesting, who are merely exercising their First Amendment rights, are clearly not engaging in rioting.”
Scott was among demonstrators who converged in downtown Louisville to express their disagreement with the grand jury decision. Many marched along Louisville’s streets chanting “Breonna Taylor, say her name,” and “no justice, no peace.”
Taylor was shot multiple times March 13 after her boyfriend opened fire as officers entered her home during a narcotics raid, authorities said. Taylor’s boyfriend said he didn’t know who was coming in and fired in self-defense. One officer was wounded.
A coroner’s report obtained Monday says Taylor was shot five times and died of multiple gunshot wounds. It says she was hit in the torso, her upper left extremity and both lower extremities. She tested negative for drugs and alcohol.
The grand jury indicted one officer, who was already fired, on wanton endangerment charges, saying he shot repeatedly and blindly fired shots that could have hit Taylor’s neighbors.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the other officers were not charged with Taylor’s killing because they acted to protect themselves.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com