A day after one of the officers wrote an unhinged email expressing his contempt for anyone who might take issue with the fact that an innocent woman who worked saving lives and had no criminal record was senselessly murdered as she slept in her apartment, a grand jury is recommending charges against Brett Hankinson, the only officer who was relieved of duty.
Hankinson was scape-goated for wantonly firing rounds into Breonna Taylor’s residence, but it is not apparent that he did anything differently from the other officers. Neither does the grand jury’s recommendation address how easily police were able to get a warrant against Taylor without any material evidence of wrongdoing. Louisville has made “no-knock” warrants illegal even as police say they announced themselves prior to entry. Police believed Taylor was guilty of drug trafficking due to an association with an ex-boyfriend.
The City of Louisville announced they would be settling the Taylor family’s wrongful death lawsuit against the city for $12 million.
Defending Cops is Easy
Defense attorneys would win just about every case if they only had to defend police officers. But this is a difficult environment for a defense since a young woman who is now a household name lost her life because of police officers’ conduct.
Hankinson is indicted on three counts wanton endangerment, a class-3 felony in Kentucky. Kentucky has no felony murder rule meaning that Hankinson cannot be held guilty of murder, but certainly could face charges related to negligent homicide, manslaughter, or something similar.
The indictment is being received as the latest in slaps on the wrist for police officers who act more like government thugs than public servants. However, holding police accountable has proven difficult. Even getting a grand jury to recommend charges against Hankinson is a major victory for prosecutors.
Grand Jury and Police Defendants
If you do not know what a grand jury is, it is when members of the community are sequestered to determine if charges should be filed against a defendant. The defense attorney and the defendant are not present at this hearing and the only person allowed to present a case is the prosecutor. In other words, the grand jury always recommends indictment unless the individual is either a) from Florida and shot someone in public or b) a police officer.
Since the prosecution is the only side of the case the grand jury hears, the indictment always comes through in their favor. So when you see a grand jury choosing not to indict, it should cause some eyebrows to raise.
This is a completely separate question from whether or not Hankinson will be found guilty, but now, at least, a trial will be allowed to move forward against one of the three men allegedly responsible for Breonna Taylor’s death.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing charges in Cook County, then you will need a criminal defense attorney to represent you during the trial. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100.