Breonna Taylor-related shooting trial begins in Kentucky

Former police officer could face five years in jail for firing ten rounds into neighbouring apartment

Brett Hankison, left, exits the courtroom after the first day of jury selection in his trial in Louisville, Kentucky. AP

The trial of a white Kentucky ex-police officer charged with wanton endangerment during the 2020 shooting death of Breonna Taylor began on Wednesday, casting a spotlight on another case in the US that sparked a summer of protests against racial injustice two years ago.

Brett Hankison, whose stray bullets hit a neighbouring apartment in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, during a botched execution of a search warrant in March 2020 was the only officer charged in the case.

Kentucky Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley reminded the jury in her opening statement on Wednesday that the case was not about Taylor. Rather, she said it concerned whether Mr Hankison exhibited “extreme indifference to human life” when firing the bullets that endangered Taylor's neighbours, shattered their glass patio door and caused drywall to fall on Cody Etherton

Mr Etherton gave evidence on Wednesday that he awoke that March night to a boom, then heard several shots and felt debris falling on him after he left his room.

When his glass patio door shattered, Mr Etherton said he went to check it out, whereupon officers pointed guns at him and told him to put his hands out through the broken glass.

“It was just reckless,” he said.

The death of Taylor, a 26-year-old black emergency medical technician who was unarmed, captured international attention and sparked weeks of protests over police violence against black people and other minority groups.