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Ex-Louisville detective charged in Breonna Taylor shooting sexually assaulted women, lawsuit claims

Officer Brett Hankison, who was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection with Breonna Taylor's death, is accused of sexual assault in a new lawsuit. (AP)
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When a police officer working security at a Louisville bar offered Margo Borders a ride home in April 2018, she accepted. The 22-year-old law student was drunk that night but said she felt safe with the officer, who had previously befriended her and often messaged her on Snapchat seeking relationship advice.

But when they got to Borders’s apartment, he didn’t leave, according to a lawsuit obtained by The Washington Post. Instead, she alleges, he followed her into her apartment, waited until she passed out on her bed and then sexually assaulted her.

In the lawsuit filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court on Tuesday, she said the man — former Louisville detective Brett Hankison — left her “physically injured and mentally battered.” And her attorneys allege Hankison had a long history of preying on women.

Hankison, 44, made national headlines this year as one of three Louisville police officers directly involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, a Black emergency medical worker who was killed while police raided her home in March. In September, a grand jury in Jefferson County indicted Hankison, who was fired in June from his job as a detective, with three charges of wanton endangerment in the first degree, alleging he had endangered the lives of Taylor’s neighbors. None of the officers faced charges connected to Taylor’s death.

Hankison has pleaded not guilty to the wanton endangerment charge. His criminal defense attorney, Stew Matthews, didn’t immediately return a message regarding the sexual assault lawsuit. It’s not clear who is representing him in civil court.

Former officer involved in Breonna Taylor killing pleads not guilty to wanton endangerment

Borders said she first met Hankison in 2017 as he worked security at several bars in the area and they had a mutual friend.

On April 20, 2018, Borders joined a group of friends at a bar, where she had several drinks and spent some time talking with Hankison, who was in his Louisville Metro Police Department uniform and working security at the bar.

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

As last call approached, the suit claims, Hankison dissuaded Borders from calling an Uber and offered to drive her home. He walked her to her door and then “invited himself inside her apartment and sat on her couch,” according to the lawsuit.

Borders then went into her bedroom to change and fell asleep. She alleges Hankison then “went into her room, stripped off his clothes and willfully, intentionally, painfully and violently sexually assaulted Margo.” When Borders came to, she yelled at him to get off her, to which he then scooped up his uniform and left.

Later that day, Borders said Hankison messaged her and suggested the sexual act was consensual.

The incident left her in pain, both physically and emotionally, she said, and left her sheets and mattress covered in blood. 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.

Hankison has a history of allegations of misconduct while with the LMPD, the suit notes, including 50 internal incident reports on his record — none of which led to disciplinary action.

Hankison was investigated at least twice by LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit, the complaint says, both regarding sexual misconduct. One accuser claimed he “demanded sexual favors in exchange for not placing criminal charges,” the lawsuit says. Another complaint alleged he made advances toward a woman who was the subject of an active investigation. He was exonerated in both cases.

A grand jury in Kentucky indicted Brett Hankison, a former Louisville police detective, as part of the investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor. (Video: Reuters)

In June, the LMPD announced an investigation into at least two sexual assault allegations against Hankison after Borders posted about her alleged assault on Facebook and another woman, Emily Terry, wrote about a similar experience on Instagram. The status of that inquiry is unclear.

Terry, whose story is cited in Borders’s lawsuit, wrote Hankison pulled up next to her as she was intoxicated and walking home from a bar in fall 2019. He offered her a ride and “began making sexual advances toward me; rubbing my thigh, kissing my forehead, and calling me ‘baby,’ ” she wrote. “Mortified, I did not move. I continued to talk about my grad school experiences and ignored him.”

When they approached her house, she ran out and told a friend, who reported it the following day. “Of course nothing came from it,” Terry wrote.

Eight other women provided statements recounting their alleged encounters with Hankison, most of which involved him allegedly targeting women outside the same bar and offering to drive the women home. One woman wrote Hankison took her phone, scanned her Snapchat ID and “begged” to drive her home, but she declined. Weeks later, he sent her pictures and videos of himself masturbating, she claimed.

Hankison has been released on bail as he awaits trial for the Taylor case, The Post reported. He will return to court for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 20.