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Ex-Officer Cleared in Shooting During Breonna Taylor Raid

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Former Louisville Police officer Brett Hankison , left, speaks to his attorney Stewart Mathews, following his acquittal on three charges of wanton endangerment, Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Louisville, Ky. Hankison was charged with wanton endangerment for shooting through Breonna Taylor's apartment into the home of her neighbors during botched police raid that killed Taylor. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, Pool)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former Kentucky police officer was found not guilty Thursday on charges he endangered neighbors the night he fired into Breonna Taylor’s apartment during a botched drug raid that resulted in Taylor’s death.

The panel of eight men and four women delivered its verdict for Brett Hankison about three hours after it took the case following closing arguments from prosecution and defense attorneys.

None of the officers involved in the March 13, 2020, raid were charged with Taylor’s death, and Hankison did not fire any of the bullets that killed the 26-year-old Black woman. His acquittal likely closes the door on the possibility of state criminal charges against any of the officers involved in the raid. A federal investigation into whether the officers violated his civil rights is underway.

Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and a group of friends and family left quickly without commenting after the verdict.

Hankison did not appear outside the courtroom after the verdict was read. But his attorney Stewart Mathews said he and his client were “thrilled.”

Asked what might have swayed the jury, Mathews replied, “I think it was absolutely the fact that he was doing his job as a police officer.”

Assistant Kentucky Attorney General Barbara Maines Whaley said she respected the jury’s verdict but had no further comment.

Prosecutors stressed in opening statements that the case wasn’t about Taylor’s death or the police decisions that led to the raid. Jurors were shown a single image of her body, barely discernible at the end of the hallway.

Taylor had been settling down for bed when officers arrived at her door. She was shot multiple times in her hallway and died at the scene.

Protesters filled the streets for months after Kentucky Attorney General David Cameron’s office declined to seek charges against any of the officers in connection to Taylor’s death. Taylor’s name and those of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery — Black men who died in encounters with police and white pursuers — became rallying cries during racial justice protests seen across the nation in 2020.

Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, said she was not surprised by the verdict. Black residents of the city, she explained, had already been “experiencing a certain amount of frustration,” because no officer had been charged for Taylor’s death.

“I think there are a lot of people who are disappointed. It is very disheartening, but I have to tell you, it’s just not surprising,” she said. “It just doesn’t feel like an optimistic day for policing, for Black people, for our entire community.”

Louisville Mayer Greg Fischer said the jury’s verdict added to the “frustration and anger of many over the inability to find more accountability for the tragic events of March 13, 2020.”

“While the conduct considered in this case was not specific to Breonna Taylor’s death, the fact remains that she should not have died that night, and I know that for many, justice has still not been achieved,” he said.

Fischer cited some of the changes Louisville metro government has made since Taylor’s death, such as banning so-called no-knock warrants and conducting a top-to-bottom review of the police department.

Hankison, 45, had been charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing through sliding-glass side doors and a window of Taylor’s apartment during the raid. Multiple bullets passed through the wall of a neighboring apartment, and prosecutors said Hankison endangered the lives of a pregnant woman, her young child and her boyfriend who lived there.

Hankison’s attorneys never contested the ballistics evidence, but said he fired 10 bullets because he thought his fellow officers were “being executed.”

One of those officers, Sgt. John Mattingly, was hit in the leg by a bullet from a handgun fired by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who said he thought intruders were breaking in.

“The jury felt like you go out and perform your duty and your brother officer gets shot, you got a right to defend yourself,” Mathews said of Hankison’s acquittal. “Simple as that.”

Taylor was killed in the fire returned by Mattingly and fellow officer Myles Cosgrove.

Hankison was fired by Louisville Police for shooting blindly during the raid. Asked during the trial if he did anything wrong that night, he said, “Absolutely not.”

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Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell Announces Leadership Team

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) today announced the appointment of the following Democratic Representatives to serve on the House Democratic Caucus leadership team for the 2022-24 legislative term:

  • Leader Pro Tempore: Representative Dotie Joseph (D-Miami);
  • Policy Chair: Representative Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton);
  • Floor Leader: Representative Michael “Mike” Gottlieb (D-Davie); and
  • Whip: Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland).

“The House Democratic Caucus is made up of some of the strongest, most fierce champions of the people in the entire state,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “It is an honor and great pleasure to work with these individuals in this new capacity, and all of them are prepared to lead the Caucus in the face of the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

As Leader Pro Tempore, Representative Joseph will assist the Democratic Leader in carrying out designated responsibilities and perform such Leadership responsibilities as are assigned, including stepping in for the Leader as needed.

“I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Representative Joseph for over 20 years. From the time we were at Georgetown Law to now, she has always been a consistent champion for justice. The issues she advocates for on behalf of all Floridians makes Representative Joseph an invaluable asset in defending Floridians against extremist Republican policies,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “I look forward to Representative Joseph’s leadership as a key member of my team over the next two years.”

In her role as the Caucus Policy Chair, Representative Skidmore will be responsible for ensuring the Caucus continues to champion legislation that positively impacts all Floridians, and will lead discussions about bills before the House at Caucus meetings.

“As the previous Policy Chair for the Caucus, I know what is needed to do this job. Appointing Representative Skidmore as Policy Chair was an easy choice,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “She stood out as a prime member in understanding policy during the last legislative term. Representative Skidmore also brings with her a wealth of experience as both a former House and Senate staffer and House member. Applying her unique skillset to this new role will benefit the Caucus and all Floridians.”

In his role as Floor Leader, Representative Gottlieb will be responsible in interpreting the House Rules, ensuring the Caucus adheres to the agreed upon rules, and working with his Republican counterpart in advocating for fair amounts of time be allotted to the Caucus in debating different pieces of legislation.

“Two things I greatly appreciate about Representative Gottlieb are his refreshing candor and strong fortitude,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “As the minority party in the Legislature, we’re aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us. What we need right now is someone who is unwavering under extreme pressure to help guide our Caucus during difficult moments. Representative Gottlieb is perfectly suited for this role.”

As Whip, Representative Hunschofsky will be responsible for keeping all Democratic Caucus members apprised of Caucus policy on any bills or issues before the House.

Representative Hunschofsky has an amazing ability to get things done,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “Not only does Representative Hunschofsky possess a wealth of knowledge due to her experience as the former mayor of Parkland, Florida, she is also a champion of many initiatives close to Floridians’ hearts, such as expanding access to quality mental health care. I know Representative Hunschofsky’s knowledge and ability will help prepare our Caucus for the challenges of the next two year.”

The Florida House Democratic Caucus will convene during Organizational Session taking place Nov. 21-22, 2022 in advance of the 2023 Legislative Session scheduled to begin on March 7, 2023.

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VIDEO: State Rep. Dianne Hart elected chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus

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ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – State Representative Dianne Hart (D-Tampa), incoming Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, talks briefly with Florida National News on the importance of the Florida Blue Florida Classic at Camping World Stadium in Orlando Saturday. The Florida Classic is an annual college football rivalry game between Bethune–Cookman University and Florida A&M University.

Hart’s Twitter Statement:

Hart’s statement: “I’m honored to have been elected as the Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus.” “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support and for trusting me to move this important caucus forward.”

During the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions, Rep. Hart served on the following House committees, including Democratic Ranking Member of the Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee, Judiciary Committee, Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight, Ways & Means Committee, Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee, State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee and Select Subcommittee on Authorized Gaming Activity.

Hart was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2018. She is also the CEO of the East Tampa Business and Civic Association.

 

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Former State Rep. Bruce Antone Ready To Rejoin Florida House

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Former State Representative Bruce Antone respond to questions by CFABJ, NAACP, and the Florida Voters League panel during a candidates forum in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Former Florida State Representative Bruce Antone served 12 years (six terms) in the Florida House of Representatives and defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Travaris McCurdy during the August primary election to represent Orange County in the newly draw District 41 House seat.

CFABJ, NAACP, and Florida Voters League held a candidates forum for candidates seeking county, state and Congressional seats in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

CFABJ, NAACP, and Florida Voters League held a candidates forum for candidates seeking county, state and Congressional seats in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

Antone was among eleven candidates seeking election to county, state and Congressional seats participating in a candidate forum hosted by CFABJ, NAACP and the Florida Voters League, Wednesday, October 19, 2022.

Green Party nominee Robin Denise Harris is the only potential road block in Antone’s return to Tallahassee and faces off with him in the November general election. The District 41 House seat has an overwhelmingly Democratic voter base.

During his time in the Florida House, Antone was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Chairman of the 29-member Florida Legislative Black Caucus.

The general election is Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

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