By Aaron Cooper, CNN
Jurors in the trial of Brett Hankison, the only police officer charged in connection with the botched 2020 raid that left Breonna Taylor dead, visited the 26-year-old Kentucky woman’s apartment Friday afternoon.
The group of 12 jurors and three alternates toured Taylor’s apartment, the next-door neighbor’s apartment where Hankison’s bullets also entered, as well as the outside of the building at the apartment complex.
The visit took place so jurors would be better able to understand the evidence presented to them in court, Judge Ann Bailey Smith told them before they left the courthouse. After the visit, jury was dismissed for the weekend, with testimony set to resume Tuesday morning.
Hankison’s charges are not related to Taylor’s death, which sparked nationwide outrage and protests. The former Louisville, Kentucky, officer is facing charges because, during the narcotics raid on Taylor’s apartment, he fired 10 shots — allegedly blindly — endangering a man, woman and child in the neighboring apartment, Kentucky Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley has said.
No one was charged for Taylor’s death.
On Thursday, the jury heard a nearly hourlong taped interview Hankison gave an investigator on March 25, 2020, 12 days after Taylor’s fatal shooting. He said he opened fire because he thought someone from inside Taylor’s apartment fired at the group of officers who breached the door. Hankison said he believed the shooter was firing with an “AR-15 rifle, or a long gun.” At one point in the interview, he said he felt “helpless.”
Kentucky Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley said during opening statements on Wednesday only a Glock pistol was found inside the apartment. Sgt. Jason Vance, who was with the police department’s public integrity unit, testified that no AR-15 casings or bullets were recovered during investigators’ searches — nor was there evidence of that type of weapon being fired.
Defense lawyer Stew Mathews said there was no evidence of an AR-15 in the apartment, but suggested in his opening there may have been one.
Hankison told investigators his only option was to return fire after another officer, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, was shot. His bullets did not strike Taylor.
“I was almost under the impression at the time they were all being sprayed with bullets,” he said in the interview.
“As soon as I returned fire through that window the threat stopped,” Hankison said in the interview.
In her opening statements, Whaley told jurors this “is not a case to decide who is responsible for the death of Breonna Taylor,” or about the search warrant conducted or reforms at the Louisville Police Department, but rather, the actions of Hankison and the “circumstances under which he acted.”
The prosecutor argued Hankison “shot into the apartment building” and his “bullets went through” two apartments — including Taylor’s — nearly hitting neighbor Cody Etherton.
Etherton testified Wednesday he was awakened as officers breached Taylor’s door nearby and remembered pieces of flying drywall and debris hitting him as he got on the floor after hearing gunfire. The gunfire was followed by silence before he heard officers announce themselves and urge someone to get on the ground, Etherton testified.
“One or two more inches and I would have been shot,” he told the court.
Mathews said Hankison responded appropriately during a chaotic situation that he saw as a threat to himself and others. The veteran officer’s actions were “logical, reasonable, justified and made total sense,” he said.
Hankison will take the stand in his defense, Mathews has said.
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CNN’s Ray Sanchez and Jason Carroll contributed to this report.