Cop found not guilty in Breonna Taylor shooting case, record expunged

Former Louisville police detective Brett Hankison, the only officer charged in the search warrant raid that resulted in the death of Breonna Taylor in March 2020, got a favorable ruling.  After a jury found him not guilty, all records pertaining to the case have been expunged.

On the night of March 13, 2020, police officers broke down Taylor's door in the middle of the night to serve a warrant for her for former boyfriend, who was a drug-dealer living 10 miles away.  The boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, was accused of using Taylor's apartment to receive narcotics.  Once the drugs were dropped off at Taylor's residence, Glover would stop by and collect them, or she would allegedly deliver them to him.

When the police entered the apartment, Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot former sergeant John Mattingly in the leg.  Walker later said he believed the couple were being robbed.  In the moment, Louisville Metro Police officers returned fire, killing Taylor.  In the following search, no drugs were found.

Following the incident, multiple officers were disciplined or fired.  Protests erupted around the country based upon biased reporting and partial information.  A grand jury indicted one police officer, Hankison.  He was charged with three counts of aggravated assault because he blindly fired ten times from outside Taylor's apartment through a sliding glass door and Taylor's bedroom window.  Three of the bullets went into another apartment where three people, one of them a five-year-old child, lived.

After a five-day trial, a jury found Hankison not guilty on March 3, 2022 after deliberating just three hours.  Stewart Matthews, Hankison's attorney, said, "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."

Because of a 2020 Kentucky law, criminal cases where the defendant is found not guilty are automatically expunged within 60 days of the verdict.  This means that all the records — the file, court videotape, fingerprint cards, etc. — are sealed forever.  "If asked about an expunged case, court clerks are required to say it does not exist," Law Enforcement Today reported.

Hankison's case was expunged at the end of May.

"The law was enacted to help people who have been criminally charged to proceed with their lives once they have been found not guilty," according to Law Enforcement Today.  "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."

While this is a good goal, the damage has been done.  Hankison lost his job and his reputation.  Anyone can search the internet and find his name and that he was charged and found not guilty.  It will most likely keep him from finding a job with another police department.  He is, however, appealing his termination from the Louisville Police.

It's good to know that the police can still get justice in the courts, but more needs to be done.  Hankison needs to get his job back.  If he is willing to continue serving the public, then he should allowed to do that.

Michael A. Letts is the CEO and Founder of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs.

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