One of the officers who shot and killed 26-year-old Breonna Taylor has been sued for sexual assault. Brett Hankison, the officer in question, was not charged with murder for Taylor’s death but was charged with endangering Taylor’s neighbours for firing “blindly” into her apartment, and was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department. Now, he is being sued for engaging in what a complaint calls a “predatory” pattern of using his position and influence to prey on intoxicated women.
The woman who filed the lawsuit, Margo Borders, initially spoke out about Hankison’s behaviour back in June after another woman came forward with story about the former police officer offering her a ride home from The Tin Roof, a bar where he worked as a bouncer. According to her story, Hankison used his role as an opportunity to make unwanted advances on her. Borders says she was a law student at the time of her assault, and she had known Hankison through mutual friends.
The lawsuit says that Hankison — while in uniform — offered Borders a ride home from the bar and she invited him into her apartment. She left him on the couch while she went to her bedroom to change, where she fell asleep because she was intoxicated. Borders alleges Hankison assaulted her while she was passed out and she woke up and yelled for Hankison to get off her. He later sent her messages implying the incident had been consensual.
Borders was "physically injured, mentally horrified and 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 lawsuit says. But she is also not alone: Borders is joined in the suit by nine other women who gave statements alleging sexual misconduct by Hankison, saying that he routinely used his standing as a police officer and job as a bouncer to target women for assault.
Several of the attorneys who filed Borders’ suit also represent the families of Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who is suing the Louisville Metro Police Department. (Aguiar and Lonita Baker are attorneys for Taylor’s family; Steve Romines represents Taylor.) The lawsuit also names former Police Chief Steve Conrad and five other officers, as well as the manager of the bar, alleging that they knew about Hankison’s behavior and failed to intervene. In a statement provided to the Louisville Courier-Journal, The Tin Roof bar says Hankison was terminated from his position there in the spring.
"This police department's long-standing tolerance for sexual assault by their officers is disgusting," Aguiar told NBC News. "We intend to hold all who failed to ever report or investigate Brett Hankison responsible. Too many women in this community have suffered for too long."