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Jury selection delayed in Brett Hankison trial

According to the judge, Hankison was unable to attend Tuesday's scheduled jury selection due to an "unexpected minor surgery."

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The jury selection process for former LMPD officer Brett Hankison's wanton endangerment trial has been delayed. On Tuesday, Judge Ann Bailey Smith said selection would be pushed to Thursday, Feb. 3 after Hankison underwent an "unexpected minor surgery" and could not be present. 

Hankison is the only other officer charged in connection with the shooting at Breonna Taylor’s apartment. He is facing three charges of wanton endangerment for shots fired into a neighboring apartment. His charges are not related to Breonna Taylor's death.

The jury selection process is expected to take several weeks as a pool of around 250 potential jurors is whittled down to the final dozen, plus alternates. During the selection process, cameras will not be allowed in the courtroom.

The Louisville metro area is anticipating a winter storm on Thursday, bringing sleet and freezing rain, which could impact the postponed date.

Hankison's attorneys went before Judge Ann Bailey Smith Wednesday to ask that media be banned from the courtroom, but Smith denied the motion, according to court documents. Reporters and the general public will be allowed, but still and video cameras cannot be used during the voir dire process - when potential jurors are examined.

Smith said the jurors chosen for the trial will be instructed to avoid any kind of media regarding the Hankison case.

Defense Attorney Stewart Matthews filed the motion to ban the media last Friday, arguing that since the case is high-profile, there is a concern that media coverage inside the courtroom during jury selection could affect the responses of the jury members who have not yet been questioned.

"My goal in filing this motion is not to start a war with the media," Matthews said during the hearing. "Rather, my goal is to do everything in my power to ensure that Brett Hankison can be tried by a jury that's fair, that's impartial, that's unbiased."

It's standard procedure for media outlets to point their cameras away from jurors to protect their identities. Mike Abate, an attorney representing multiple Louisville media outlets, argued that having a media presence in the courtroom helps give the public confidence that the selected jury is indeed fair and impartial.

In a response to Matthews' motion, Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed his own motion, providing a list of alternative methods the court could utilize to avoid a complete ban of media access. His suggestions include limiting what kind of footage - either audio and video - media outlets could be permitted to record, implementing white noise during juror questioning and providing a copy of the court record via DVD that would include individual voir dire proceedings after all of the jurors have been interviewed.

"The Commonwealth recognizes the competing interests between the right to an impartial jury and the right to public and media access. Here, the Commonwealth believes the balance favors access, even if the Court decides to place some limitations on that access," the motion says.

Attorney Ben Crump, who represents Breonna Taylor's mother, issued the following statement Friday, as jury selection began:

“The trial of Brett Hankison recalls the inconceivable lack of justice for Breonna Taylor. It is hard to comprehend that this is the only criminal trial to emerge from the botched no-knock raid that took her innocent life and subsequently shook the nation. Hankison is on trial, not for the bullets that struck and killed Breonna, but for the bullets that endangered other residents in the apartment complex. These charges of wanton endangerment should be the lowest among many to result from that tragic night, not the highest and sole among them. The lack of justice for Breonna Taylor is a blight on our nation’s criminal justice system. Now, more than ever, we must say her name and make sure the world never forgets Breonna Taylor.”

Contact reporter Heather Fountaine athfountaine@whas11.com and follow her onTwitter (@WHAS11Heather) andFacebook

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