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Louisville officer pleads not guilty to charges related to fatal Breonna Taylor shooting

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 9/28/2020 Emma Austin, Louisville Courier Journal
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The sole Louisville police officer charged in connection to the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor pleaded not guilty to three counts of wanton endangerment at his arraignment Monday. 

Former Louisville Metro Police Detective Brett Hankison was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday over shots that went into a neighboring apartment the night Taylor was killed. He was booked that afternoon at the Shelby County Detention Center and released about half an hour later after posting a $15,000 cash bond.

Following the plea, presiding Judge Ann Bailey Smith set the conditions that Hankison must not be in possession of any firearms pending a court decision. His attorney Stewart Mathews requested the restriction be reconsidered for self-defense purposes, citing multiple threats he says Hankison has received.

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Smith refused, saying she does not allow people charged with offenses involving firearms to possess any such weapons.

Hankison will appear in court on Oct. 28 at 11 a.m. for a pre-trial conference.

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In Kentucky, wanton endangerment is a Class D felony. If convicted, Hankison could face up to five years in prison for each count. 

"A person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person," state law says.

The other two officers who shot weapons in Taylor's apartment were not charged. Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove remain on administrative reassignment pending an internal investigation into the shooting. 

An FBI ballistics test found Cosgrove fired the fatal bullet, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said following the grand jury's decision. But a state ballistics test was inconclusive.

Hankison's charges are not directly related to Taylor's death.

Hankison was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department in June after interim Chief Robert Schroeder said he fired indiscriminately into Taylor's apartment and adjoining units. 

Hankison's attorney called the firing a "cowardly political act," and Hankison is appealing the decision. The appeal will be heard by the Police Merit Board — of which Hankison was a member until his termination — after the criminal case has been completed.

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Evidence from the case leaked on social media and digital news sites over the weekend, and Hankison can be seen in video footage entering Taylor's apartment after her death. Schroeder confirmed the footage came from body cameras of responding officers who arrived after Taylor was shot.

"We are looking to work with the FBI and the attorney general's office to see what information we can release, what could potentially damage the investigation, what would not damage the investigation and release whatever information we can that will not harm that," Schroeder said.

Follow reporter Emma Austin on Twitter at @emmacaustin

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This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville officer pleads not guilty to charges related to fatal Breonna Taylor shooting

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