Former Louisville, Kentucky, police officer Brett Hankison, one of three cops involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, is being sued by a woman who says Hankison used his power as a police officer to prey on and later sexually assault her in 2018.
In March of this year, Hankison, along with Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and officer Myles Cosgrove, executed a “no-knock” warrant into Taylor’s apartment. She was shot at least seven times by police and bled out in her apartment while her boyfriend Kenneth Walker looked on. Although Hankison was fired and faces criminal charges, Mattingly and Cosgrove are on administrative leave and still employed by the force.
Although Hankison was charged in connection with the incident, it wasn’t for Taylor’s death: He was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for shots fired into a neighboring apartment.
This week, Margo Borders, a Kentucky resident and law school student, accused Hankison, 44, of “willfully, intentionally, painfully and violently” sexually assaulting her after a night out at a local bar called the Tin Roof in April 2018, according to the lawsuit. The suit, filed by the same attorneys representing Taylor’s family, also names former Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad and five other law enforcement officers as defendants, alleging that they consistently failed to intervene or punish Hankison for rampant misconduct.
The lawsuit lays out a pattern of misbehavior, alleging that Hankison repeatedly used his badge and uniform to harass and sexually assault intoxicated women at the Tin Roof, where he worked a second job as security. Hankison “routinely identified intoxicated young women, put them in his vehicle while in uniform and left the premises with them while already beginning to engage in visible misconduct,” the suit states.
“Our client, Margo, felt that it was necessary to come forward and pursue justice, and hold Brett accountable,” attorney Lonita Baker told ABC News. “He used his uniform and badge to target unsuspecting women whom he knew were in a possible state where they could not consent and took advantage of them. It’s disgusting.”
HuffPost was unable to reach Hankison for comment.
Hankison was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department in June after his involvement in the killing of Taylor, a 26-year-old Black EMT. The officer, who already had a long list of misconduct issues according to Borders’ suit, had displayed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life,” Police Chief Robert Schroeder said in Hankison’s termination letter.
Several women described Hankison’s predatory behavior in testimonials included in the lawsuit. According to the suit, he would “spot young women which fit his type; build trust with them through law enforcement status; add the women as friends to social media accounts; identify the women when they are at the bar in a vulnerable or intoxicated state; take the women home as their designated driver in a police uniform; make advances towards the women; sexually pursue the women and, if they do not consent or are otherwise incapable of consenting, sexually assault them.”
Borders alleges that Hankison followed this exact playbook in assaulting her. She says Hankison used social media to cultivate a friendship with her in 2017, and the two became friendly. Borders, who was in a relationship at the time, often gave Hankison advice on relationship issues he was having with his then-girlfriend. In April 2018, Borders was hanging out with Hankison at the Tin Roof while he was working security. When the bar closed, Hankison, who was sober, offered Borders a ride home because she had become intoxicated.
“Margo’s intention was to take an Uber home, but Hankison insisted upon giving her a ride,” the lawsuit states. “Margo had no objections to a ride home from a police officer. She wouldn’t have to pay for an Uber and felt protected with an officer making sure she got home safely.”
Who do you call when the person who assaulted you is a police officer? Who were they going to believe? I knew it wouldn’t be me. Margo Borders
The suit alleges that Hankinson invited himself in when the two arrived at Borders’ apartment. As Hankinson sat on the couch, she went to change clothes but fell asleep. According to the lawsuit, Hankison then went to Borders’ room and sexually assaulted her, leaving her “in tremendous physical pain.” Later in the day, Hankison messaged Borders and tried to “suggest that the two had engaged in consensual relations,” according to the suit.
This summer, amid protests against police brutality nationwide, Borders and several other women publicly accused Hankison of using his badge to commit sexual misconduct.
“I never reported him out of fear of retaliation. I had no proof of what happened and he had the upper hand because he was a police officer,” Borders wrote on Facebook in June. “Who do you call when the person who assaulted you is a police officer? Who were they going to believe? I knew it wouldn’t be me.”
Management for the Tin Roof, which is accused of “negligent supervision” in the suit, confirmed in a Wednesday statement that Hankison was one of a “rotating group of off-duty police officers” who worked security for the bar. Hankison was fired from the Tin Roof this spring, around two years after he allegedly assaulted Borders.
“We feel there is an obligation to provide a safe environment for guests as they enter and exit the venue and would never deliberately put the safety of our patrons at risk especially by those contracted to serve and protect,” the Tin Roof statement reads. “We find the allegations to be reprehensible, and our company does not tolerate abuse of power or discrimination in any form.”