LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When hundreds of potential jurors gather at a Louisville courthouse on Friday, they’ll find out for the first time that they could be chosen to preside over the only criminal trial to arise from the botched police raid that left Breonna Taylor dead.
The former Louisville officer facing trial, Brett Hankison, was not charged in Taylor’s shooting death. Instead, he is standing trial on three lower-level felony charges for allegedly firing his service weapon wildly into Taylor’s neighbor’s apartments during the March 13, 2020, raid.
Jury selection for Hankison's trial is expected to take weeks.
Whatever the verdict, the trial could leave a bad taste in the mouth of protesters who took to the streets of Louisville for months to say Taylor’s name as part of racial injustice demonstrations that exploded around the country that year.
“Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor,” was a common refrain.
The upcoming trial may be the only criminal case that arises from the deadly raid on Taylor’s home.
“There are definitely people who want to see some form of justice and will take any piece of that,” said Shameka Parrish-Wright, a local organizer in Louisville who was arrested at one of the Taylor protests.
Hankison’s trial “is a piece of that, but it’s not the original thing we set out for. We were asking for all those officers to be fired, arrested and prosecuted.”
Parrish-Wright, who is running for Louisville mayor, said many feel it was a tragedy that no officer was charged for Taylor’s death.
There have been murder convictions in two other racially charged cases that also fueled the 2020 protests, including the verdicts in November that sent three white men to prison for the killing of a Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia, and the verdict last spring against a white former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who got 22 years in prison for killing George Floyd.
Despite the lack of charges over Taylor’s death, her death has led to major changes.
Louisville banned the use of so-called no-knock warrants like the one used in the deadly raid, and the governor signed a law limiting the use of such warrants throughout the state.
The Louisville Metro Police Department underwent regime change after the raid, and there is an ongoing, broad federal investigation looking into possible racial biases within the department.
The city also paid $12 million to settle Taylor’s mother’s wrongful death lawsuit.