Ex-Louisville detective Brett Hankison’s trial begins in Breonna Taylor case

Ex-Louisville detective Brett Hankison’s trial begins in Breonna Taylor case

Rachel Smith

The long-awaited federal trial of a former Louisville Metro police officer accused of violating the civil rights of Breonna Taylor and four other people on the night Taylor died began this week with jury selection.

Former Det. Brett Hankison is accused of violating the civil rights of Taylor and four other people on the night she was killed in March 2020.

The trial is expected to last up to several weeks and centers around the shots Hankison fired in Taylor’s Louisville apartment complex on the night of her fatal shooting.

Here’s everything to know about the case:

Who is Brett Hankison? How is he connected to the shooting of Breonna Taylor?

Brett Hankison is a former detective with the Louisville Metro Police Department who has faced state and federal charges in connection with the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor. He was acquitted of the state charges and is now going to trial in federal court.

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, was inside her apartment in the South End neighborhood of Louisville when she was fatally shot by police officers attempting to serve a search warrant in the early morning of March 13, 2020, as a part of a narcotics investigation.

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Seven officers were on scene for the warrant, and three fired their guns: Sgt. John Mattingly and Detectives Hankison and Myles Cosgrove. They fired a combined 32 rounds throughout the apartment.

Hankison had worked for the department about 17 years when he fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment through a covered glass door and window. Three of those rounds traveled into an adjacent apartment with a man, pregnant woman and 5-year-old inside. 

Hankison testified in Jefferson Circuit Court that he was trying to protect two fellow detectives at the apartment’s front door, including Mattingly, who was shot in the leg by Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend. Walker said he thought the police were intruders. Mattingly and Cosgrove returned fire and a bullet from Cosgrove’s gun hit Taylor, killing her.

Didn’t Hankison already go to trial for his role in the Breonna Taylor shooting?


In September 2020, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced a grand jury had indicted Hankison on three wanton endangerment counts. But that was related to the three people in the apartment adjacent to Taylor’s. He and the other officers were not directly charged in her death on the state level.

In March 2022, Hankison was found not guilty on these state charges. He has had those criminal charges expunged.

Hankison is now federally charged with using excessive force by firing blindly into Taylor’s apartment through the sliding glass door and window. He is accused of violating the civil rights of Taylor, her boyfriend, Walker and the three neighbors.

Is Brett Hankison still employed by LMPD?

Hankison was fired in 2020 when then-interim Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert Schroeder called the rounds he fired “a shock to the conscience.” 

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What happens next?

The trial had been slated to begin Aug. 21, but on a defense motion, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings reset it for Oct. 30. The trial is expected to last approximately two to three weeks, with Jennings saying it could be as long as four weeks.

More: Which officers face federal charges in the Breonna Taylor case: What you should know

More: Federal civil rights trial of ex-LMPD Detective Brett Hankison in Breonna Taylor case is delayed further

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