Could ballistics in Breonna Taylor case determine prosecution of officers?

There are calls across the city -- and the country -- for the three officers involved in the...
There are calls across the city -- and the country -- for the three officers involved in the Breonna Taylor shooting death to be fired and charged.
Updated: Aug. 19, 2020 at 5:52 PM CDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The decision to prosecute police officers in the Breonna Taylor case could come down to a matter of following the bullets.

More than 20 shots were fired into Taylor’s apartment by police, killing Taylor after she was hit multiple times.

How those shots were fired raises legal questions.

“If all three officers, in response to this bullet being fired by the boyfriend, sprayed bullets, they certainly could all be susceptible to criminal charges,” South Carolina law professor Colin Miller said. “If in my response I’m firing a gun and I’m spraying bullets in such that not just that person is hit but other people, I can’t claim self-defense.”

Miller provided research on Kentucky law to attorneys representing Breonna Taylor’s family. He said state laws detailing murder and manslaughter could apply if it is shown that officers fired their weapons wildly without regard to innocent bystanders.

Officers returned fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired shots as police entered the apartment. One of those bullets hit officer Jon Mattingly in the leg as he entered the apartment.

Walker said the couple did not hear police announce themselves before breaking down the door.

Mattingly told LMPD internal investigators he fired four rounds.

Many more bullet holes were visible from the outside of Breonna Taylor's apartment and some shots entered the neighboring apartment.

The termination letter of Officer Brett Hankison however detailed a more severe response.

The letter said Hankison acted with “extreme indifference to the value of human life when (he) wantonly and blindly fired 10 rounds into the apartment.”

“If you read between the lines, that letter, that language they used, it seems pretty clear they are saying this officer is criminally and civilly responsible,” Miller said. Hankison has appealed his termination.

The other two officers continue on administrative reassignment.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron has not said when he intends to announce the results of his investigation.

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