The jury trial for former Louisville Metro Police detective Brett Hankison, one of the officers who shot at Breonna Taylor, will begin on August 31. His team hopes to move the trial outside Louisville.
Hankison’s attorney, Stewart Matthews, said he plans to file a motion in the next two weeks to request a change of venue.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith on Wednesday set the date for the jury trial during a pre-trial hearing conducted remotely due to COVID-19. Attorneys said during the hearing that all discovery for the case had been filed. She also scheduled an in-person hearing for March 25, to discuss the potential change of venue, indicating she might move the trial farther from Jefferson County than a neighboring county.
Hankison was fired from LMPD last summer for his role in the fatal shooting of Taylor, an unarmed 26-year-old Black woman, who died during an after-midnight raid. Officers broke down her door seeking evidence against a former boyfriend as part of a narcotics investigation. Her current boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot once at them, believing them to be intruders, and officers opened fire in response.
According to the pre-termination letter from then-interim chief Robert Schroeder, Hankison fired 10 bullets through a covered window, demonstrating an “extreme indifference to the value of human life.” None of his bullets struck Taylor, according to ballistics evidence, but some traveled into a neighboring apartment.
Hankison has appealed his firing, but the independent police merit board on which he used to hold a seat has not yet taken up his request, due to the ongoing criminal case.
Venues for trials are sometimes changed when factors such as intense media coverage could be believed to affect the impartiality of the jury. Taylor’s killing was one of the most high-profile police shootings of 2020, sparking a lasting protest movement and legislative change in Louisville and beyond.
Hankison faces three charges of wanton endangerment. A grand jury indicted him in September based on Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office’s investigation into the shooting. The charges were for shots fired into a neighboring apartment. Neither Hankison nor the other two officers who fired their guns that night, former Det. Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, were charged for Taylor’s death.
No other officers involved in the incident have been charged, though Cosgrove and Joshua Jaynes, the officer who obtained the search warrant, were fired this month. A federal investigation by the FBI is ongoing.