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Jury in Hankison trial tour apartment complex where Breonna Taylor was shot and killed

The jury in the Brett Hankison trial left the courtroom on Friday to tour the apartment complex where Breonna Taylor was shot and killed two years ago.
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 4:38 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The jury in the Brett Hankison trial left the courtroom on Friday to tour the apartment complex where Breonna Taylor was shot and killed two years ago. Friday marked day three of the trial and things have been moving quickly with witness testimony.

The jury has seen photos of the scene and maps, but Friday they will be looking at where the raid took place two years ago. This sort of tour doesn’t happen for every case, but in some instances it does. It is not unusual.

In Hankison’s trial, logistics is important because bullets went into one home and through another.

Hankison is not charged in Taylor’s shooting death, but because some of the bullets he fired through Taylor’s sliding glass door and bedroom window went into a neighbor’s apartment, coming close to striking a man inside. LMPD leaders who dismissed Hankison said he fired “blindly” into Taylor’s apartment. Hankison said he believed his fellow officers who raided Breonna Taylor’s apartment were taking fire from an AR-15 rifle, which he said prompted him to fire 10 shots into her apartment.

Several people testifying through this trial said there was no AR-15 used by anyone in Breonna Taylor’s apartment. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one round from his legally-owned handgun after officers used a battering ram to force open the apartment’s front door. Walker’s bullet struck Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh, severing his femoral artery.

Herman Hall from the Office of Attorney General, who also testified Friday, lead the jury through the area in the apartment complex. The judge gave the jury very specific instructions about what they can and can’t do.

“While at the scene you are not allowed to speak at what you have observed with each other, the parties, attorneys, or anyone else,” Judge Ann Bailey Smith said. “So when we go out there, you will not be given any instructions from anyone. No one is going to say you need to look at this or that. Hopefully you have seen enough of this trial from photos and diagrams, heard from witnesses that when you go into the apartments and outside the buildings you will be able to recognize the things you need to recognize to assist you in evidence you heard here in courtroom.”

The jury was done for the day on Friday after the tour. They will return to court on Tuesday morning. Between now and then, the jury was reminded to not talk about the case with anyone, avoid doing research on their own. That includes watching about the topic on the news and other types of media. If they do, they are to tell the bailiff when they get back on Tuesday.

On Friday, the jury also heard from several firearms experts, including agents from the FBI who investigated the scene. The jury will be released for the day after the tour of the apartment complex and will return on Tuesday.

WAVE News also learned that Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, was told to leave the courtroom Thursday morning because she wore a jacket prominently featuring her late daughter.

Juniyah Palmer, Breonna’s sister, posted about it on social media:

“DAY 2! Today we have been kicked out and escorted out of the hall of justice! My mother was wearing her jacket that has Breonna on it, not only that Sheriff Anthony Goffner touched her jacket and said ‘this isn’t accepted.’ My mom then asked ‘was there a dress code for court?’ and he kept ignoring us,” Juniyah Palmer posted on her social media page with a video of the jacket.

Judge Smith’s staff sent WAVE News this statement in response:

“The relevant ‘dress code’ for spectators in the courtroom is that no one should wear any attire or display any object that is so inherently prejudicial that it would deprive the defendant of a fair trial. This rule is based on the Kentucky Supreme Court case of Hammond v. Commonwealth, 504 S.W.3d 44, 51 (Ky. 2016), and it addresses the concern that any apparel that prominently displays sympathy for either side in a trial may prejudice the jury, or appear to do so, and it could result in a mistrial or an appellate court’s reversal of the jury’s ultimate decision.

This “dress code” is in effect in every jury trial and Judge Smith generally relies on the Deputy Sheriffs who monitor the courtroom to enforce it.

Judge Smith’s said she was unaware that the Deputy Sheriff had asked anyone to leave the courtroom due to violation of the rule. The judge’s office said it was their understanding that Taylor’s family was in the courtroom on Friday.

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