Officer in Breonna Taylor case under investigation for sexual assault, mayor says

Officer in Breonna Taylor case under investigation for sexual assault, mayor says
Louisville Metro police Detective Brett Hankison, left, is one of the officers accused of killing Breonna Taylor, seen at right on a protester's poster, in her home March 13, 2020. Hankison, 44, is also under investigation for allegations of sexual assault while in uniform. (Louisville Metro Police Department, Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — One of the three Louisville officers who opened fire on Breonna Taylor’s home in March, killing the unarmed EMT, is under investigation for sexual assault after multiple women have come forward with allegations against him.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Thursday announced a broad investigation into the allegations against Detective Brett Hankison. “Now we are also investigating this matter jointly under the auspices of the Kentucky Public Corruption/Civil Rights Task Force, which consists of FBI, Louisville Metro Police Department, Kentucky State Police and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office,” Fischer said in a statement.

Fischer said he has also written to the River City Fraternal Order of Police and demanded that Hankison be removed from his post on the Louisville Police Merit Board. The board, which reviews disciplinary appeals of police officers, consists of five civilians appointed by the mayor and two police officers elected by the FOP.

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“Given the very serious allegations against him and investigations by the Attorney General and the FBI, it is profoundly inappropriate for him to be in this role,” Fischer wrote in his letter. “In the event the FOP does not act, we will work with the Metro Council and Jefferson County Attorney’s Office to find other ways to remove him from the board.”

At least two women have posted allegations on social media this month. One woman, identified on Facebook as Margo Borders, wrote on June 4 that she went to a St. Matthews bar with friends in April 2018.

When she started to call an Uber to take her home, Hankison, who she’d encountered before, offered her a ride home, Borders wrote.

“He drove me home in uniform, in his marked car, invited himself into my apartment and sexually assaulted me while I was unconscious,” Borders wrote. “It took me months to process what had happened and to realize that it wasn’t my fault and I didn’t ask for that to happen by allowing him to give me a ride home.

“I never reported him out of fear of retaliation. I had no proof of what happened, and he had the upper hand because he was a police officer. Who do you call when the person who assaulted you is a police officer? Who were they going to believe? I knew it wouldn’t be me.”

Borders’ social media post is accompanied by Hankison’s police photo and a photo of herself holding a protest sign that reads, “This is for ‘Officer’ Brett Hankison. You big fat white nasty racist cop.”

In April of 2018 I went out to a bar with some friends. I went to call an uber home and a police officer who I had...

Posted by Margo Borders on Thursday, June 4, 2020

Another woman, identified on Facebook as Morgan Miller, offered a similar story on June 5, which would have been Taylor’s 27th birthday.

“While leaving a bar in Louisville, this uniformed officer approached me and asked me to hand over my phone. I did. He took my number and scanned my Snapchat ID,” Miller wrote. “He then tried tirelessly to persuade me to get me into his car. He even begged under the guise to provide me with ‘a safe ride home.’ I turned him down over and over, and luckily walked away unscathed.”

Several weeks later, Miller alleged, Hankison began sending her photos and videos of himself masturbating via Snapchat. She wrote that she blocked his number immediately.

“My story ended with unsolicited pictures of his penis and a blocked number,” Miller wrote. “But I have no doubt that if I got into his car that night that my story, like many of the women coming forward, would be much worse.”

This is Brett Hankison. While leaving a bar in Louisville, this uniformed officer approached me and asked me to hand...

Posted by Morgan Miller on Friday, June 5, 2020

Both women’s posts went viral, as did an Instagram post by a third woman, Emily Terry.

Terry wrote that early last fall, she began walking home drunk from a bar.

“A police officer pulled up next to me and offered me a ride home. I thought to myself, ‘Wow. That is so nice of him,’” Terry wrote.

She wrote that, when she got into his car, Hankison began making sexual advances, calling her “baby,” rubbing her thigh and kissing her forehead.

“Mortified, I did not move. I continued to talk about my grad school experiences and ignored him,” Terry wrote. “As soon as he pulled up to my apartment building, I got out of the car and ran to the back. My friend reported this the next day, and of course nothing came from it.

“Flash forward, I see his face. This face. Involved with the shooting of Breonna Taylor.”

Terry wrote about learning of Hankison’s alleged history of corrupt behavior, allegations of which are detailed in a federal lawsuit filed against him in October.

“Not all cops are bad but this one is,” Terry wrote.

The lawsuit, filed by Kendrick Wilson, 34, of Louisville, alleges a pattern of harassment by Hankison, who the complaint states “decided that Mr. Wilson, for one reason or another, had to be engaging in illegal activity, and that (Hankison) had to ensure his conviction.”

The lawsuit outlines three instances in which Hankison arrested Wilson in 2016 and 2018 at bars where Hankison worked off-duty security details. Wilson alleges that Hankison targeted him, possibly over a relationship both had with the same woman, and planted drugs on him.

Read Kendrick Wilson’s entire federal lawsuit below.

Borders offered a statement to the Louisville Courier Journal Tuesday through Sam Aguiar, one of the attorneys representing Taylor’s family. In that statement, Borders called Hankison “a predator of the worst kind.”

“He used his uniform to stalk women at local bars and sexually assault them,” Borders said. “I was one of these women. This man knew his badge would keep us quiet and that his LMPD brotherhood would protect him. After several years and several victims, it was clear he was right.

“When I found out that Brett Hankison, whose face and presence in Louisville had haunted me for the last two years, was one of Breonna’s killers, I knew my time of being silenced by this man was over.”

Hankison, 44, and Detective Myles Cosgrove, 42, and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, 47, are on administrative leave following Taylor’s March 13 death. A lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family alleges that the officers, who went to her apartment with a no-knock warrant stemming from a drug investigation, indiscriminately fired more than 20 rounds into the apartment.

Taylor, who had been asleep with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was shot eight times and died on the floor of her hallway.

Breonna Taylor, 26, of Louisville, Ky., was shot and killed by police March 13, 2020, as they executed a search warrant at the wrong apartment, according to a lawsuit filed by her family. Taylor, an award-winning EMT and emergency room technician, was shot at least eight times.
Breonna Taylor, 26, of Louisville, Ky., was shot and killed by police March 13, 2020, as they executed a search warrant at the wrong apartment, according to a lawsuit filed by her family. Taylor, an award-winning EMT and emergency room technician, was shot at least eight times. (Family photos via attorney Benjamin Crump)

Walker, who said he believed the officers were intruders, fired a shot that hit Mattingly in the leg. Although he was initially charged with attempted murder of a police officer and aggravated assault, those charges were later dropped.

The Louisville Metro Council on Thursday night passed a ban on the use of no-knock warrants, which allow police to enter a person’s home without knocking or identifying themselves. Fischer, who had suspended the use of the warrants following Taylor’s killing, vowed to sign the ban into law as soon as it hits his desk.

The law is called “Breonna’s Law” in honor of the slain paramedic.

Yes!!! 🙌🏽 And now to arrest her killers! #Repost @blmlouisville ・・・ 🗣🗣🗣🗣 y’all let’s celebrate this victory! We still...

Posted by Luvvie Ajayi Jones on Thursday, June 11, 2020

The law also requires any police officer executing a search warrant to wear a body camera. None of the three officers who went to Taylor’s apartment March 13 was wearing a camera.

Then-police Chief Steve Conrad, who announced his retirement following Taylor’s death, was unceremoniously fired by Fischer June 1 after the fatal police shooting of David McAtee, a beloved Louisville barbecue spot owner who was killed as officers and Kentucky National Guard members tried to clear Black Lives Matter protesters from a nearby parking lot.

Conrad’s firing stemmed, in part, from the fact that the officers who fired their weapons at McAtee did not have their body cameras running, part of a policy put in place following Taylor’s killing.

Capt. Robert Schroeder was named interim chief while the city conducts a nationwide search for a new police chief.

The Kentucky attorney general, the FBI and the Department of Justice are reviewing the city’s investigation into Taylor’s death, Fischer said. The FBI and the DOJ are also conducting their own investigations into the shooting.

Fischer is also seeking a top-to-bottom review of the police department.