Brett Hankison Charge: What Does ‘Wanton Endangerment’ Mean? How Long Is the Sentence?

Facebook/Louisville Metro Police Department Breonna Taylor (left) and Brett Hankison (right).

Louisville detective Brett Hankison was charged with three felony counts of first degree wanton endangerment following the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor on March 13, according to a livestream of the grand jury announcement on Wednesday. No other charges were announced against the two other officers involved in Taylor’s death. No murder charges were filed against Hankison or the others.

Hankison was fired in June for his use of force during the botched drug raid that led to Taylor’s death. He was terminated after an investigation found that he “wantonly and blindly fired 10 rounds” into Taylor’s home, as reported by Heavy. Some of the bullets fired by Hankison penetrated an adjacent apartment, endangering a pregnant woman, the department found.

According to multiple reports on Wednesday during the grand jury announcement, Hankison’s charges have to do with the stray bullets fired, and nothing to do with the 10 rounds he fired into Taylor’s home.

Here’s what you need to know:

What Is a ‘Wanton Endangerment’ Charge? How Long Could Hankison Go to Jail for, if He’s Found Guilty?

According to Kentucky legislature, “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.”

Hankison faces a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years in prison, if he’s found guilty of all three counts of wanton endangerment. As some have noted, Taylor would

As reported by The Courier-Journal, Judge Annie O’Connell said Hankison “wantonly fired a gun” into three apartments during the March 13 raid that killed Taylor. The court documents included the initials of the people who were endangered in those apartments, and none of those initials reflected Taylor.

Taylor’s Lawyer Has Called the Grand Jury Decision ‘Outrageous and Offensive’

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump has been representing Taylor’s family amid the investigation. Following the grand jury announcement on Wednesday, Crump slammed the decision on Twitter.

“Jefferson County Grand Jury indicts former ofc. Brett Hankison with 3 counts of Wanton Endangerment in 1st Degree for bullets that went into other apartments but NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor,” he tweeted. “This is outrageous and offensive!”

He added in a subsequent tweet, “If Brett Hankison’s behavior was wanton endangerment to people in neighboring apartments, then it should have been wanton endangerment in Breonna Taylor’s apartment too. In fact, it should have been ruled wanton murder!”

As the decision was announced through loud speakers outside of the courthouse, many people displayed shock and confusion at the charges. “That’s all?” One person could be heard shouting.

This confusion only seems to have compounded as lawmakers have clarified that none of the charges against Hankison actually pertain to Taylor’s death, but to neighbors in other apartments who did not die.

This is a developing post and will be updated.

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