The upcoming criminal trial for a former police detective involved in the deadly raid that killed Breonna Taylor — even though he wasn’t charged for killing Breonna Taylor — will be partially open to the press, a Kentucky judge ruled Thursday.
The ruling against Brett Hankison, who was fired from the Louisville Metro Police department after botching the execution of a no-knock search warrant on an apartment misidentified as where a suspect was located, was meant to ensure a fair judicial process, Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith said in her ruling Thursday, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Smith had one caveat: No members of the press can have cameras in the courtroom during the jury selection process. However, those proceedings will still be open to the media.
“Jurors will individually take the witness stand and submit to questioning by counsel, a process that is inherently intimidating to a lay person,” Smith wrote in part of her ruling. “The court finds that jurors will be likely to be less intimidated by this process, and therefore more likely to be candid in their responses, if they know there is no possibility that the general public and the media present at the proceeding have the ability to broadcast or otherwise record their testimony.”
Her decision delivers a setback to Hankison, who in September 2020 was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree for bullets he fired that did not go into Taylor’s apartment. Hankison’s legal team had filed the motion for a media ban as well as another one for a change of venue, the latter on which has not been decided.
A grand jury did not find enough evidence to charge any of the three officers as it directly related to Taylor’s killing in a disappointment to people calling for justice to be served in the 26-year-old’s death.
The office of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has defended the criminal charges against Hankison, was among those who opposed the proposed media ban, the Associated Press reported. Cameron emerged as a contemptuous figure in the Black community because of his perceived initial lack of attention to the case and showing more sympathy for the police than for Taylor and her family.
Early in the morning of March 13, 2020, a group of Louisville police officers descended upon Taylor’s apartment to execute a search warrant for a suspect who was later determined to have already been in police custody. When Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, heard noise at the front door and suspected a burglar, he retrieved his legal gun and fired a shot in that direction out of self-defense, unwittingly hitting one of the officers while exercising the state’s stand your ground law. The cops responded by blindly firing off a hail of bullets, ultimately killing Taylor who, prior to the shooting, had been sleeping.
Police never recovered any drugs after attempting to conduct the search warrant in connection to an investigation around Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover. Walker was quickly accused of the attempted murder of a police officer, charges that were ultimately dropped nearly one year later.
Jury selection in Hankison’s case begins Tuesday.