A civil lawsuit filed last year against one of the officers who raided 26-year-old Breonna Taylor’s Louisville, Ky., home in March accused him of being a vindictive, “dirty” cop who had no qualms about planting drugs on suspects.
According to USA Today, Kendrick Wilson filed a federal lawsuit against narcotics detective Brett Hankison in October 2019, accusing the officer of harassing him and planting drugs on him in two separate arrests.
Hankison is one of three Louisville Metropolitan officers being investigated for their part in the March 13 shooting of Taylor. Hankison, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove were serving a “no-knock” warrant at Taylor’s home just before 1 a.m. the night they fatally shot her. The police claim they announced their presence at the EMT’s apartment before taking a battering ram to her door.
Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, says he thought intruders were trying to break into the home and fired a shot that injured Sgt. Mattingly in the leg. Taylor, who had been upstairs asleep, was shot eight times by the officers. No drugs were found at her apartment.
The 2019 complaint, which contains only Wilson’s side of the story, lays out three separate occasions in which Hankison targeted and arrested Wilson in 2016 and 2018, “all of which originated at bars where Hankison sometimes worked as off-duty security,” writes USA Today:
The first arrest was in 2016 at the Tin Roof bar, when Hankinson arrested Wilson on suspicion of assault. The charges were dismissed in November.
In June 2018, outside the Tin Roof bar, Hankinson arrested Wilson again. The arrest citation Hankison wrote states that a police dog indicated the “presence of a narcotic odor” in Wilson’s pocket.
Wilson empties his pockets, which the lawsuit said showed they contained only money.
The citation said Hankison recovered a plastic bag of suspected powder cocaine on the ground and arrested Wilson.
But the lawsuit, citing body camera footage, said Hankison located the bag “on the sidewalk several feet away from where the altercation took place.”
“He then jokes with other LMPD officers about ‘planting dope’ when Mr. Wilson expressed shock over the locating of these drugs,” the suit says.
“Also visible on the body camera is an unnamed civilian, who can be heard communicating with Mr. Wilson that he saw an officer drop the drugs on the sidewalk before he retrieved them,” the suit says.
Several months later, Wilson filed a report about Hankison’s behavior to the LMPD’s Internal Affairs division claiming he had been unfairly targeted. But Wilson had to discontinue the complaint because he still had a legal case pending, and he did not have a legal rep with him at the time.
It wasn’t long before Hankison and Wilson met again: just one month later, at another bar, Sullivan’s Tap House. (The suit mentions that Wilson and Hankison had a history outside of the arrests, including “a relationship with the same woman.”)
In that third arrest, Hankison reported that he had uncovered a “large bag of powder cocaine” weighing more than 5 grams on Wilson. A bystander’s video of the arrest showed the narcotics detective “taunting” Wilson’s girlfriend, telling her that “he was planting ‘dope’ again,” the lawsuit said. The charges against Wilson were dropped two months later, USA Today reports.
Wilson was actually arrested an additional time—one year later, at his home and barbershop. According to the suit, Louisville narcotics officers kicked down the door of his home and pointed their firearms at his girlfriend. The police ended up seizing a gun Wilson lawfully purchased, as well as his license and cell phone. While Hankison wasn’t one of the arresting officers in that encounter, Wilson suspects that he played “a role in the issuance of these warrants,” the suit says.
If what Wilson alleges in the lawsuit is true, the problems in LMPD’s narcotics division are systemic and potentially far-reaching. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has called for a federal investigation into Taylor’s shooting. All three officers are still employed by LPMD and are on administrative duty as the probe into the case continues.