Local attorney on charges in Breonna Taylor case: ‘Think about the bigger picture’

MADISON, Wis. – The Madison community is reacting to the news that one of three police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor will be charged, and the charges will not pertain to her shooting.

Taylor, was shot and killed during a no-knock warrant in Louisville, KY in March. Only one officer involved, Detective Brett Hankinson, will face charges. The officer now faces three charges of wanton endangerment, which would equate to reckless endangerment charges in Wisconsin.

“This was a horrible case, this young lady did not deserve to die,” said Chris Van Wagner, a defense attorney based in Madison. “I’ve been following it from the beginning. When I first heard about it and heard about the shooting, I immediately recognized that this fell into a long line of similar incidents.”

Van Wagner says the wanton endangerment charges mean Hankinson could have been shooting his gun wildly, without worrying about where his bullets went.

“When you act in a way that exhibits if you will, indifference to life, with carelessness to a high degree or recklessness is what we call it,” he said.

Van Wagner says the civil settlement issued to Taylor’s family earlier in September didn’t surprise him, but he says despite settlements and charges, the case still has a chance to continue.

“There is no doubt in my mind that everything that they found, or uncovered , or determined through their own independent investigation was turned over to the Kentucky Attorney General,” he said. “In this case, they have a lot more information than they normally would.”

However, Van Wagner says Taylor’s shooting death raises concerns of bigger issues nationally – no knock search warrants, and the war on drugs, which he says has turned out to be a failure. In June, Governor Tony Evers called for a ban on no-knock warrants, but the possible legislation has not been passed.