Judge rules media can watch jury selection for Hankison trial

Former Louisville Metro Police Detective Brett Hankison, right, and his attorney Stew Mathews listen to Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith during a pretrial conference on Friday, where Judge Smith moved the trial from Hankison as of February 1, 2022. April 23, 2021

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Efforts by former Louisville Metro Police Detective Brett Hankison to block the public and media from watching jurors’ questioning in his criminal case have been denied.

Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith ordered that individual jury questionings remain open, but no one watching the proceedings can take photos or video inside the courtroom.

Smith said “the wide media coverage this case has generated” necessitated this “tightly tailored limitation.”

“Jurors will individually take the witness stand and submit to questioning by counsel, a process that is inherently intimidating to a layperson,” she wrote in Thursday’s order. “The court believes that jurors are likely to be less intimidated by this process, and therefore more likely to be candid in their answers, if they know there is no possibility that the general public and media present at the proceedings have the ability to broadcast or otherwise record their testimony.”

Hankison faces three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, a Class D felony, for the shooting that took place at Breonna Taylor’s apartment just before 1 a.m. on March 13, 2020.

Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith gestures while speaking to defense attorney Stew Mathews during a pre-trial on Friday.  Justice Smith moved the trial to Feb. 1, 2022, due to a Kentucky Supreme Court directive prioritizing trials of those held in prison.  April 23, 2021

Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith gestures while speaking to defense attorney Stew Mathews during a pre-trial on Friday. Justice Smith moved the trial to Feb. 1, 2022, due to a Kentucky Supreme Court directive prioritizing trials of those held in prison. April 23, 2021

However, the charges do not relate to the endangerment of Taylor, but rather to three of his neighbors in an adjacent unit pierced by some of his 10 punches.

The ex-detective pleaded not guilty.

Jury selection will begin on Friday, when about 250 potential jurors will be called and given a questionnaire. Some of those jurors will then be asked to return on February 1 for individual questioning, with general jury selection to begin on February 22 and a trial to follow.

Stew Mathews, Hankison’s defense attorney, filed a motion last Friday seeking to ban the media and the public from seeing the individual questioning of jurors, said individual voir dire.

The attorney general’s office, which is acting as special prosecutor in the case, opposed the effort, as did the Courier Journal, the Associated Press and WDRB Media.

Smith’s order follows a hearing into the matter on Wednesday morning.

Mathews said his goal was “not to start a war with the media.”

“On the contrary, my goal is to do everything in my power to ensure that Brett Hankison can be tried by a fair, impartial and impartial jury,” he said. “And I think this motion, maybe, will give you a tool to see, or to make sure that happens.”

Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley speaks with Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith during a pre-trial for former Louisville Metro Police Detective Brett Hankison on Friday, where Judge Smith moved the trial to February 1, 2022, due to a Kentucky Supreme Court directive prioritizing the trials of those held in prison.

Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley speaks with Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith during a pre-trial for former Louisville Metro Police Detective Brett Hankison on Friday, where Judge Smith moved the trial to February 1, 2022, due to a Kentucky Supreme Court directive prioritizing the trials of those held in prison.

Mathews reminded Smith that he filed for a change of venue last year for similar reasons: “the massive, prejudicial and inflammatory publicity of the incident itself, and then of the events that occurred by the suite” in Louisville.

“I’d bet there are very few citizens of Jefferson County – that is, potential jurors – who haven’t heard of the case, haven’t discussed it, and haven’t discussed it. not formed an opinion or expressed an opinion or expressed an opinion somewhere along the line,” he said. “All of this concerns me enormously and deeply in terms of our ability to choose an impartial jury.”

Barbara Maines Whaley, a prosecutor for the attorney general’s office, argued that Smith had options that stop before shutting down the individual voir dire altogether, such as banning live streaming, providing audio-only access outside of the courtroom or provide news outlets with a DVD of the entire proceedings after the fact.

Michael Abate, the First Amendment lawyer representing The Courier Journal, AP and WDRB, said the US Supreme Court is clear that “the ground rule is that the questioning of individual jurors must be done in public, with the court controlling the process”.

Mathews said he’s also worried that potential jurors won’t be as forthcoming in their answers as lawyers would like with reporters present, and that they might fear their identities will be leaked.

Smith said she shared Mathews’ concerns about a “chilling effect on the candor of jurors,” especially as they are being questioned individually in front of reporters.

“It will be my job to try to ease their concerns and make them feel as comfortable as possible in this already uncomfortable setting so that they give us the answers to the questions we ask them,” he said. she declared. .

Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman and ER technician, was shot dead by LMPD officers as they attempted to execute a search warrant for drugs and cash in her apartment around 12:40 p.m.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot from his legally owned handgun after officers used a battering ram to force open the apartment’s front door. Walker’s shot hit Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh, severing his femoral artery.

In turn, Mattingly fired six shots, Detective Myles Cosgrove fired 16, and Hankison fired 10. Taylor was punched six times by Cosgrove and Mattingly, with the FBI concluding that Cosgrove fired the fatal shot.

Walker maintained he did not know they were officers on the other side of the door, but the officers insist they announced their presence. Walker was initially charged in the shooting, but the criminal case against him has since been permanently dismissed.

hankison was fired for his role in the June 2020 shooting. Then-Acting Chief Robert Schroeder accused Hankison of “indiscriminately” firing 10 rounds at Taylor’s apartment, calling his actions a “shock to conscience.”

Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Hankison’s bullets did not hit Taylor. The other two officers, who shot Taylor, do not face criminal charges as Cameron’s team concluded they were defending themselves.

Cosgrove was also fired from the LMPD in 2020 for filming. Mattingly retired last year.

Contact Tessa Duvall at tduvall@courier-journal.com and 502-582-4059. Twitter: @TessaDuvall.

This article originally appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal: Breonna Taylor: Judge rules media can watch Hankison jury selection