Let’s start by remembering that no one has been criminally charged for the horrific killing of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, a promising and ambitious young woman who police gunned down in her home in Louisville, Ky., in the middle of the night last spring.
Of the three officers who entered Taylor’s apartment on that fatefully tragic night in March 0f 2020, only former Louisville Metro Police Department Officer Brett Hankison has received any charges—specifically, three counts of wanton endangerment for firing bullets into the apartments’ neighboring Taylor’s home.
Now that Hankison is facing trial on those charges, which could result in a punishment of fewer than five years in prison or fines no more than $10,000, the former cop is trying his hardest to fight any semblance of accountability for participating in a Rambo-like shooting spree.
According to a report from the Louisville Courier Journal, an attorney representing Hankison had requested that his case be moved out of Jefferson County, Kentucky—where Louisville sits—because adverse publicity related to the Breonna Taylor case would make it virtually impossible for an impartial jury to be found.
“I think that there’s subliminal pressure—if not direct pressure—on all of those people and fear of what could happen should they sit on this jury and should they render a verdict that is not the verdict a large segment of the population wants,” said attorney Stew Matthews.
He added that though the case against Hankison isn’t about homicide, it will be treated as “basically a referendum on the homicide of Breonna Taylor” and that Hankinson is a convenient target for “revenge” given that he is the only officer charged in the entire incident.
It doesn’t seem to me like any kind of pressure about the immorality about letting officers off the hook for their rampantly violent behavior has weighed that heavily on jurors before when it comes to cases of cops taking Black lives, so I’m not really seeing the logic to back up Matthews’ claim.
Public pressure also didn’t weigh that heavily on Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron when he chose not to bring charges against former LMPD Detective Myles Cosgrove, who the FBI has determined fired the shot that killed Taylor, or against Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who has said he and his partners did the “moral and ethical” thing on the night they blasted the young woman’s body with multiple bullets.
Matthews’ also said media reports about the botched police raid that killed Taylor has caused adverse publicity against the officers that could taint the jury pool for Hankison’s trial, and the argument about publicity is one that was unsuccessfully levied by the lawyer defending former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin in his trial for the killing of George Floyd.
It appears Judge Ann Bailey Smith, the Jefferson County judge who heard the motion from Hankison’s lawyer, wasn’t convinced by his argument. On Thursday, she denied his request to move the trial to a different location.
She said that Jefferson County residents hearing about the case does not guarantee that they will be oppositional to the officer on trial, which I completely agree with.
“There are very many people in this community who hold police officers in very high regard,” said Smith. “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.”
Indeed. I suspect Hankison doesn’t have much to worry about. Meanwhile, for the rest of us who have to live with the reality of police who can enter our homes with their guns a-blazing...