A lawyer for Breonna Taylor’s neighbors says they are pleased that a grand jury has decided to indict former Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officer Brett Hankison for putting them in danger by “blindly” firing into their apartment during a raid on Taylor’s home. But they don’t believe the charges go far enough.
“There is some disappointment that everyone was not indicted, and there’s also disappointment that no one is facing any charges, presently, for the death of Breonna Taylor,” attorney Brandon Lawrence told WFPL News.
Hankison’s charges are three counts of wanton endangerment, one for each of the three people in the apartment next to Taylor’s. So far no charges have been brought against the other two officers, or against anyone in Taylor’s death.
Lawrence represents Taylor’s neighbors Chelsey Napper and Cody Etherton in a civil suit against the three officers who raided Breonna Taylor’s apartment in March. Officers Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly burst into Taylor’s apartment to serve a warrant around midnight. Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who said he believed police were intruders, fired a single shot, striking Mattingly in the leg. Cosgrove, Mattingly and Hankison all returned fire. Cosgrove and Mattingly hit Taylor, killing the 26-year-old Black emergency room technician.
Napper and Etherton are suing the officers because several bullets tore through the wall of Taylor’s apartment into their home. Attorney General Daniel Cameron said at a news conference on Wednesday that those bullets were shot by Hankison.
“The [officers] proceeded to spray gunfire into Chelsey Napper’s apartment with a total disregard for the value of human life,” the complaint reads. “Shots were blindly fired by the officers all throughout Chelsey Napper’s home. A bullet that was shot from the Defendant police officer’s gun flew inches past Cody Etherton’s head while he was in the hallway of Chelsey Napper’s apartment.”
Napper’s five-year-old son, Zayden Flournoy, was asleep in the apartment as well.
Lawrence said despite the grand jury’s decision not to indict Cosgrove or Mattingly, they were responsible for putting Taylor and her neighbors in danger as well
“We believe that everyone on the scene played a role in what happened that night, and they should have to account for what they did and have justice administered,” he said.
The complaint alleges the officers failed to follow proper safety protocols and procedures in serving the warrant, such as conducting a risk assessment and planning a hospital route in advance.
“It was a poorly executed plan,” Lawrence said.
Hankison, the only officer to be indicted, had already been fired from the department in June because he “blindly” fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment, and according to his termination letter, “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life.” Cosgrove and Mattingly remain employed.
According to court documents, at least one bullet tore into a third apartment. Photo evidence shows a bullet went through the ceiling of Taylor’s home, and through the floor of the apartment above. Attorney General Daniel Cameron only mentioned two apartments –Taylor’s and Napper’s — while announcing the grand jury’s decision.
On Facebook, an attorney for Taylor’s family, Sam Aguiar, said a Black family was living in the third apartment.
“Three counts for the shots into the apartment of white neighbors, but no counts for the shots into the apartment of the black neighbors upstairs above Breonna’s. Let alone everything else you got wrong,” Aguiar’s post reads.
Aguiar told WFPL News he knows Napper and Etherton are white and that the upstairs neighbors are Black because he has met them.
Lawrence said he doesn’t know how Napper or Etherton identify racially, but that they deserve justice, and so does Taylor.
“Breonna Taylor was their neighbor,” he said. “They would have liked to have seen the officers face charges for her death.”