‘One or two inches more, I would have been shot,’ says neighbor in Hankison trial

During the Breonna Taylor raid, her former neighbor, Cody Etherton, said he dived to the floor as bullets flew into his apartment.
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 6:33 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2022 at 4:34 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Two years after the fatal raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment, the only officer criminally charged is now on trial. Brett Hankison, a former Louisville Metro Police Department officer, is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment after allegedly shooting into Taylor’s neighbor’s apartment on Springfield Drive.

The man who lived next door to Breonna Taylor with his pregnant girlfriend and her five-year-old son, Cody Etherton, described the night as pure chaos.

>>> COMPLETE COVERAGE: The Breonna Taylor case

The prosecution with the Kentucky attorney general’s office is using Etherton’s experience as evidence to show the jury how Hankison put him and his family in danger.

“This is a case about Cody and his partner Chelsea, who was seven months pregnant at the time, and their five-year-old son was closest to the front door,” Prosecutor Barbara Whaley said.

She told jurors that after officers used a battering ram to break down Taylor’s front door, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a single shot, striking LMPD Sgt. John Mattingly. Whaley said Hankison was off to the side at the time, telling an upstairs neighbor to return inside. However, when the officers began firing back at Walker, Hankison dashed to Taylor’s side patio door.

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Former LMPD officer Brett Hankison sits in on testimony during his trial on Feb. 23, 2022.
Former LMPD officer Brett Hankison sits in on testimony during his trial on Feb. 23, 2022.(WAVE 3 News)

“(Hankison) started shooting in a perpendicular, geometrically perpendicular to where the shot had come from inside the apartment,” Whaley said.

According to her, Hankison fired five shots through the patio door. Three of those bullets pierced Taylor’s wall and entered Etherton’s apartment.

Etherton said he woke up as officers entered Taylor’s apartment and approached his front door. Etherton said he fell to the floor and crawled back to his bedroom, telling his partner to do the same.

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“When drywall started hitting me in the face I already knew,” he said. “One or two inches more, I would have been shot, which I think about all the time. It upsets me — my son would never have been able to meet me.”

Stewart Mathews, Hankison’s lawyer, argued that Hankison followed his training when Walker shot at the officers.

“You’re taught to shoot until the threat is stopped,” he said. “You’re obligated to defend yourself, your other officers, and citizens.”

Mathews also questioned Etherton’s motivation for testifying. He informed the jury that Etherton had filed a $12 million lawsuit against Hankison, LMPD, and the City of Louisville.

“Of course we want to be compensated, but like I said, me and my partner Chelsea have never mentioned the amount $12 million,” Etherton said.

The jury will go on a tour of the apartments on Friday afternoon.

Hankison’s trial will last for two weeks, and he is planned to testify.

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