Officer charged in Breonna Taylor case pleads not guilty

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The lone Kentucky detective facing charges related to the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor pleaded not guilty Monday.

Brett Hankison’s plea comes five days after a grand jury indicted him on three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into the home of Taylor’s neighbors. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison on each count.

Hankison’s lawyer asked that his client be allowed to keep firearms for self-defense, saying Hankison, who was fired in June, “has received a number of threats.” The judge turned down the request.

The grand jury declined to charge Hankison or the other two undercover narcotics officers who opened fire inside Taylor’s house with her shooting. The decision not to charge the officers set off protests in Louisville and across the country.

On Monday, Louisville’s mayor lifted the curfew put in place after people refused to end their nighttime protests. Mayor Greg Fischer’s statement said the 9 p.m. curfew had served its purpose.

“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.

“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 after her boyfriend opened fire as officers entered her home during a narcotics raid on the night of March 13, 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.

Scott, the state’s only Black woman representative, was arrested and charged Thursday night with the felony of first-degree rioting as well as unlawful assembly and failure to disperse, which are misdemeanor offenses.

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