Former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison is facing trial in federal court for violating the civil rights of Breonna Taylor during a botched raid in 2020. This trial comes after Hankison was acquitted in a state trial last year. The jury selection process began on Monday and will continue on Tuesday, with lawyers working to select 16 jurors from a pool of about 50 potential candidates.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed by police officers executing a flawed drug search warrant. Taylor’s boyfriend fired a single shot, hitting one of the officers, and in response, officers fired multiple shots, striking Taylor in her hallway. The other 32 bullets fired during the raid came from the police.
During the raid, Hankison fired 10 shots into Taylor’s apartment, but none of them hit anyone. His bullets entered neighboring apartments where people were present. No drugs or long guns were found in Taylor’s apartment.
Hankison is one of four officers charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with violating Taylor’s civil rights. The charges against him carry a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted. The killing of Breonna Taylor, along with the death of George Floyd, sparked nationwide protests in 2020 against racial injustice and police brutality.
Former officer Kelly Goodlett has already pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy for fabricating a portion of the warrant linking Taylor to alleged drug activity. Former detective Joshua Jaynes and former Sgt. Kyle Meany are also charged with conspiring to deprive Taylor of her civil rights and are set to be tried together next year. Goodlett is expected to testify against them.
Hankison is the only officer among the four charged who was present during the raid. At his state trial in 2022, he testified that he fired into Taylor’s apartment because he thought he saw a figure with a rifle. However, prosecutors argued that other officers did not recall seeing Hankison in the doorway when gunfire erupted.
The federal trial, presided over by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings, is expected to last two to three weeks.