He’s clear! Case expunged after not guilty verdict for only officer charged in Breonna Taylor shooting

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LOUISVILLE, KY – The Breonna Taylor criminal case is officially over for former Louisville police detective Brett Hankison, as all records pertaining to the case have been expunged. That means everything has been erased from public record.

Hankison was the only officer charged in the search warrant raid that killed Taylor on the night of March 13, 2020.

 

As part of a Kentucky law passed in 2020, criminal cases in which a defendant is found not guilty are automatically expunged within 60 days of the verdict.

Hankison’s case was ordered expunged by Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Ann Bailey Smith in late May, his attorney, Stew Mathews, said this week.

A Jefferson County Circuit Court jury found Hankison not guilty on March 3 of this year on three counts of wanton endangerment. The former detective fired multiple shots during the raid, some of which went into the apartment home of one of Taylor’s neighbors.

Once a case is expunged, the file, court videotape, fingerprint cards and all other records are sealed forever from view by the public as well as police, prosecutors and judges. The cases are sealed and removed from public files.

If asked about an expunged case, court clerks are required to say it does not exist.

The law was enacted to help people who have been criminally charged to proceed with their lives once they have been found not guilty. Lawmakers noted that years-old cases with unproven charges were still showing up on employer background checks, making it difficult for people to get jobs.

Hankison’s attorney said the expungement will not be of much help for his client, given the level of national coverage surrounding Taylor’s death. Mathews said:

“All you gotta do is Google his name and you find 5,000 articles about him. It’s not like nobody can find out what he was ever charged with.”

The Louisville Metropolitan Police Department terminated Hankison’s employment with the agency while he awaited trial, which started the last week of February. The five-day trial ended after roughly three hours of deliberation with a verdict of not guilty on all three counts.

Currently, Hankison “has little jobs here and there” Mathews said, and is appealing his termination from the department.

His appeal in front of the Louisville Police Merit Board was postponed pending the outcome of the criminal trial and has not been rescheduled.

Officers broke down Taylor’s door in the middle of the night to serve a search warrant related to a former boyfriend who was a drug dealer living 10 miles away.

That man, Jamarcus Glover, was allegedly utilizing Taylor’s apartment to receive narcotics that were being delivered through the mail and other sources. Once the drugs were dropped off at Taylor’s residence, he would either stop by and collect them or she would allegedly deliver them to him.

When police burst in, Kenneth Walker, a boyfriend of Taylor’s, fired a shot that hit former Sgt. John Mattingly in the leg. Walker claimed he believed the couple were being robbed.

Multiple Louisville Metro Police officers returned fire, killing Taylor, 26. No drugs were found in her home.

While several officers were fired or disciplined for the raid, Hankison was the only one indicted by a grand jury.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron declined to press charges against Mattingly and the officer who fired the fatal shot, Myles Cosgrove, saying they were justified in returning a shot fired by Walker.

Hankison was charged with three counts of aggravated assault after blindly firing 10 times from outside Taylor’s apartment through a sliding glass door and Taylor’s bedroom window.
Three of the bullets flew into an adjacent apartment, where Cody Etherton, Chelsey Napper and her 5-year-old child lived, according to reports.

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Stewart Matthews, Hankison’s attorney, was pleased in the outcome of the trial, saying:

“Justice was done. The verdict was proper and we’re thrilled. He was doing his job as a police officer…The jury felt like you go out and perform your duty and your brother officer gets shot, you have a right to defend yourself. Simple as that.”

During the trial, Hankison testified that he was not initially part of the narcotics investigation that led to officers executing the search warrant that evening but was told that there was only supposed to be one person inside. He said:

“There was only supposed to be one person in that apartment and now there was allegedly a dead girl inside and that’s not why we were there. We were there to get documents and/or items related to a boyfriend that was drug trafficking.”

That boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, was allegedly utilizing Taylor’s apartment before the shooting to receive narcotics that were being delivered through the mail and other sources. Once the drugs were dropped off at Taylor’s residence, he would either stop by and collect them or she would allegedly deliver them to him.

Taylor’s death sparked national outrage as members of the media, politicians, and ill-informed protesters and rioters claimed that the officers involved had murdered Taylor.

They went further into that argument saying that the officers busted in her door that night instead of announcing themselves as police officers with a warrant.

The outrage caused by this sparked protests and riots throughout the Louisville Metro area which spilled over to the night that Republican Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced the shooting by two of the officers involved was justified.

Attorney General Cameron made his decision based upon the facts and evidence presented during the investigation which showed that the two officers merely opened fire to protect themselves after being fired upon by Walker.

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