Former officer charged in Breonna Taylor case accused of rape

Lawsuit alleges Brett Hankison targeted several women as they left bars drunk

The former Louisville police officer who faces criminal charges in the Breonna Taylor shooting case is accused of preying on women and sexually assaulting a college student he drove home from a bar in 2018, according to a lawsuit filed this week in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Brett Hankison was fired June 23 for his role in the botched raid on Taylor’s apartment in March.

Around the same time that he was fired, an investigation was launched into at least two sexual assault claims by two women who leveled accusations against the officer on social media, according to The Washington Post.

Attorneys who filed the suit Tuesday claim Hankison has a long history of preying on women.

Hankison, 44, reportedly amassed 50 incident reports while employed with the Louisville Metro Police Department, the Post reported.

In a handout photo provided by the Shelby County Detention Center, former Detective Brett Hankison poses for a mug shot in Louisville, Kentucky. Hankison pleaded not guilty to three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the night Breonna Taylor was killed by police. (Shelby County Detention Center/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

At least two of these internal complaints involved allegations of sexual misconduct, which were investigated by the department’s Public Integrity Unit but led to no disciplinary action.

Although Hankison’s name was ultimately cleared in both cases, the lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges the officer “demanded sexual favors in exchange for not placing criminal charges,” and that he made advances toward another woman who was under investigation at the time, the Post reported.

What the lawsuit alleges

The lawsuit specifically addresses the alleged rape that occurred on April 20, 2018.

At the time, Hankison was working a security detail in full uniform at a bar in Louisville.

The accuser, a 22-year-old law student whose name the AJC is withholding because of the nature of the purported crime, said she was drunk when Hankison approached and offered her a ride home, the suit states.

The woman said she met Hankison a year earlier while he worked at several bars in the area. The two also had a mutual friend and would often exchange platonic messages on Snapchat about relationship advice.

The woman said she agreed to the ride home because she felt safe with a police officer.

“Given that [the accuser] was alone and that Hankison was sober and the police, she liked having that protection,” the lawsuit states. “The two looked over social media and laughed over the actions of some other patrons of the bar.”

After last call, Hankison talked the woman out of calling an Uber and offered to make the drive himself.

‘Physically injured, mentally battered’

At her apartment, Hankison walked her to the door and invited himself inside, where he made himself at home on the couch, the lawsuit states, according to the Post.

The woman said she went to her room to change and passed out on her bed.

Next, Hankison allegedly “went into her room, stripped off his clothes and willfully, intentionally, painfully and violently sexually assaulted” the woman, the lawsuit states, according to the Post.

The woman said she eventually woke up, realized what was happening and screamed at Hankison to get off her. The officer quickly gathered his belongings and left the scene, the Post reported.

Later the same day, Hankison reportedly messaged the woman and called the sexual encounter consensual, the suit states.

The lawsuit said the incident left her “physically injured and mentally battered.”

She “remained in extreme emotional duress over both the assault and the feeling that any efforts made to hold Officer Hankison accountable for his actions would backfire,” the suit claims.

Other allegations

The other woman named in the lawsuit who alleged a separate encounter with Hankison said the officer also gave her a ride while she was drunk and walking home from a bar in fall 2019.

Once in the car, Hankison allegedly “began making sexual advances toward me; rubbing my thigh, kissing my forehead, and calling me ‘baby,’” she states in the suit, according to the Post. “Mortified, I did not move. I continued to talk about my grad school experiences and ignored him.”

As they approached her house, she turned and ran, the Post reported. The incident was reported to Louisville police the next day.

“Of course, nothing came from it,” the woman said.

The legal action also states that eight other women have since come forward to allege that Hankison had also offered to drive them home from outside the same bar.

One of these women said she refused Hankison’s advances after he allegedly confiscated her cellphone, copied her social media handle and then “begged” to drive her home, the Post reported.

Weeks later, she claimed Hankison sent her lewd images and videos of himself.

Hankison was represented in the criminal case by attorney Stew Matthews, but it’s not clear who will represent him in the civil matter, the Post reported.

Breonna Taylor case

In September, Hankison became the only officer to be indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment unrelated to Taylor’s death for shooting into neighboring apartments on the night of the raid.

He has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail as he awaits a return to court for a pretrial hearing Jan. 20.

The other two officers involved — Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove — remain on administrative leave pending an ongoing internal investigation.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times March 13 by officers who entered her home using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation.

Taylor’s death sparked national outrage and months of protests.