Breonna Taylor’s mother and sister said they were kicked out of the Jefferson County Judicial Center in downtown Louisville on Thursday after wearing clothing referencing Taylor.
The family members were attempting to sit in on the ongoing criminal trial for former Louisville Metro Police Department officer Brett Hankison, who was involved in the March 2020 raid that left Taylor dead. He’s facing three counts of felony wanton endangerment for bullets he fired into a neighboring apartment.
No one was charged for killing Taylor.
In an Instagram post Thursday morning, Ju’Niyah Palmer, Taylor’s younger sister, said she was “escorted out of the courthouse” along with Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer. She posted a photo of Tamika’s letterman jacket, which was emblazoned with numerous “Justice for Breonna Taylor” patches and a photo of Taylor’s face.
“Not only that Sheriff Anothey Goffner touched her jacket and said ‘this isn’t accepted,’” Ju’Niyah said in the post. “My mom then asked was there a dress code for court and he kept ignoring us.”A WFPL News reporter also observed Ju’Niyah being asked to leave the courtroom by a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy on Wednesday. Ju’Niyah said outside of the courtroom that she was asked to remove a tie-dye hoodie that had Taylor’s face on it with, “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” written on the front.
“I cried because it hurt my feelings,” she later said in an Instagram post. “I am not hurting anybody by voice [sic] my opinion on my shirt.”
Ju’Niyah was allowed back into the courtroom without the hoodie on. The courtroom has been open to the public since the trial began.
While Ju’Niyah said she and her mother were kicked out on Thursday because of their clothing, but officials have not discussed their reasoning for asking them to leave. The assistant to Judge Ann Bailey Smith, who is presiding over Hankison’s trial, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In an Instagram story Thursday morning, Ju’Niyah called on supporters to “pull up” to the courthouse tomorrow wearing “Breonna gear.”
“There is no reason we can’t wear anything pertaining to her if y’all keep preaching this trial isn’t about her,” she said.
Both prosecutors and Hankison’s defense attorney have argued that the current trial is not about Taylor, but about how Hankison’s actions may have endangered her neighbors. Assistant Kentucky Attorney General Barbara Whaley warned jurors during her opening statement Wednesday against thinking about the case as a referendum on Taylor’s killing.
“This is not a case about the search warrant for Breonna Taylor’s apartment,” Whaley said. “This is not a case about the Louisville Metro Police Department as to whether there needs to be reform or more support for officers who put their lives on the line everyday. This is not that case.”
Taylor, an unarmed 26-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed in her hallway by police during a middle-of-the-night raid on her apartment. Police were there to execute a search warrant connected to a broader narcotics investigation focused on Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. Ballistics reports showed none of Hankison’s bullets struck her.