Judge Ann Bailey Smith decided on Thursday afternoon (March 25) that the trial for former Louisville Metro police detective Brett Hankison will not be moved from Jefferson County.
Hankison is facing three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for his role in the March 13, 2020 shooting and death of Breonna Taylor. His trial is scheduled to begin on August 31.
The charges stem from bullets that went through Taylor’s apartment and into a neighboring unit with three people inside.
Stew Mathews, Hankison’s attorney, unsuccessfully argued “adverse publicity” directed at LMPD, who were the officers on scene at Taylor’s apartment, and Hankison specifically would mean “a large percentage” of potential jurors in Jefferson County could not be fair and impartial.
The Courier-Journal reports that Judge Smith did caution, however, on Thursday that she’d be opening to moving the trial to another county if a jury in Louisville cannot be seated. She decided that while jurors may have heard of the case, that does not mean they hold any opinion as to Hankison's guilt or innocence.
"There are very many people in this community who hold police officers in very high regard," she said. "So I think that's a distinction as well that we may be able to get jurors who will be open-minded and listen to the evidence and decide the case solely on what they hear in the courtroom, and not based on media reports or preconceived notions about what took place."
On September 23, a grand jury returned three counts of “wanton endangerment” in the first degree against former officer Brett Hankison for firing into another apartment. A $15,000 cash bond was also attached to the charges. The other two officers, Sgt. John Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove, were not charged and remain on the force. Hankison was fired in July.
After midnight on March 13, Hankison, Cosgrove and Mattingly executed a botched “no-knock” warrant at Taylor's apartment which she shared with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Believing they were being attacked by intruders, Walker fired his weapon. The officers returned gunfire striking the 26-year old Taylor six times which killed her. Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron claimed the warrant was not a no-knock and the police announced themselves prior to entering the apartment.
Photo: Shelby County Detention Center via Getty Images