An attorney who previously represented an Ohio police officer charged with fatally shooting a Black driver in a high-profile incident is defending Brett Hankison, the former Louisville officer indicted in connection with the Breonna Taylor case.
Stew Mathews, a Cincinnati attorney, represented Raymond Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati police officer who was charged with murder in July 2015 in connection with the shooting of Samuel DuBose during a traffic stop that month near the school’s campus. Prosecutors tried Tensing twice, and both trials ended with deadlocked juries. They then abandoned the case.
Mathews confirmed Thursday he is representing Hankison, who was indicted on Wednesday by a grand jury on three counts of wanton endangerment, accused of firing shots into an occupied apartment near Taylor’s in March.
Taylor’s death set off intense protests and calls for the officers involved to face charges. The two police officers who shot and struck Taylor were not charged, and Kentucky’s attorney general said Wednesday their use of force was justified because Taylor’s boyfriend, fearing intruders were breaking into the apartment, fired at them first.
Hankison was fired from the Louisville police force in June. The grand jury indicted him on three counts, one for each person in the nearby apartment — a pregnant woman, a child and a man.
Mathews said he was referred to Hankison’s case by a police officer in Cincinnati. The attorney said he has been involved in the case for months, but has largely been sitting back and waiting for the results of the investigation.
Mathews declined to comment on the charges or the announcement, saying he was not in a position to do so. Hankison has surrendered on the warrant issued for him, posted bond and been released and awaits his arraignment, Mathews said. Courts in Jefferson County, Ky., remain closed through at least Monday, Mathews said, so they are still waiting for that date to be set.
Hankison will plead not guilty to each count, Mathews said.
Asked to describe his client’s response to the charges, Mathews declined to comment beyond saying “he’s disappointed.”
Before taking on Hankison’s case, Mathews spent years representing Tensing in another shooting that drew national attention. Video footage captured by Tensing’s body-worn camera showed the White officer stopping DuBose, a Black man, and interacting with him briefly. Then DuBose restarted his car, Tensing yelled for him to stop and shot DuBose in the head. Prosecutor Joseph Deters assailed Tensing when he announced the murder charge in July 2015, calling him a murderer.