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Attorney representing former officer in Breonna Taylor case wants trial moved

Attorney representing former officer in Breonna Taylor case wants trial moved
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An attorney representing former Louisville Police Officer Brett Hankison plans to file a petition to move his trial on charges related to the Breonna Taylor case.

Hankison’s attorney, Stew Mathews, told Jefferson Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith on Wednesday that he will request a change in venue to another county in the next two weeks, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

Smith is expected to hear the motion to change the location on March 25. As of now, the trial, in which Hankison faces three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, is slated to begin on Aug. 31 in Jefferson County.

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Mathews, a Cincinnati-based attorney, said Thursday that he is looking to move counties due to the negative attention that the Taylor case has seen, NBC News reported

Kentucky state law allows a trial to be relocated "if it appears that the defendant or the state cannot have a fair trial in the county where the prosecution is pending," according to the Courier-Journal. The trial location can then be changed "to the most convenient county in which a fair trial can be had.”

The Courier Journal noted, citing census data, that the counties adjacent to Jefferson are much smaller and whiter. Black people make up 24 percent of the Jefferson County population, while the five surrounding counties are less than 14 percent Black.

The Kentucky attorney general’s office told The Hill that it would be premature to comment on its response to the venue change request before it is filed.

The Louisville Metro Police Department fired Hankison in June after his involvement in executing the no-knock warrant at Taylor’s apartment, which ended in the Black 26-year-old EMT being fatally shot.

Hankison, the only officer charged for the incident, was charged with endangerment after his bullets went into a neighbor’s apartment. He has pleaded not guilty. 

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The other two officers involved in the raid, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not charged, meaning no officer was directly charged with Taylor’s death. 

Cosgrove and Detective Joshua Jaynes, who applied for the search warrant, were fired earlier this month.

During the raid, Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, fired a shot out of fear that the apartment was being burglarized, prompting all three officers to return fire. Taylor was shot six times. 

Her death case became central to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement over the summer, as did the death of George Floyd after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for an extended period.