BRETT HANKISON-SHELBY COUNTY DETENTION CENTER BOOKING PHOTO-9-23-20.JPG

Brett Hankison's booking photo from the Shelby County Detention Center

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a Louisville woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by one of the Metro Police officers who opened fire during the raid that ended in the death of Breonna Taylor.

Margo Borders, who has previously gone public with her allegations, claims former Det. Brett Hankison is a “sexual predator” who used his secondary job working as security at local bars to “prey on innocent women,” including her.

The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court on Tuesday, also names several LMPD officers, claiming they knew Hankison was a predator but did nothing about it.

Hankison, who was fired after Taylor's death and then indicted for wanton endangerment in the March 13 raid of her home, has been under investigation for months after several women came forward in June claiming he had assaulted them.

Attorney Stew Matthews, who represents Hankison in the wanton endangerment case, said he didn't know anything about the lawsuit.

An LMPD spokeswoman declined to comment. Hankison has not been charged with any sexual assault crimes.

The lawsuit accuses Hankison of preying on women when they are “vulnerable” or in an “intoxicated state,” offering to drive them home and making sexual advances towards them and “if they do not consent or are otherwise incapable of consenting, sexually assault(ing) them.”

The lawsuit names four officers and former Chief Steve Conrad as defendants, claiming they knew of Hankison’s conduct but took no action to stop it.

The suit notes that by 2018, when Borders was allegedly sexually assaulted, Hankison had already been accused of crimes but cleared by the department.

In 2008, he was accused of receiving oral sex in exchange for not arresting a woman. In 2015, a woman claimed he attempted to have sex with her in exchange for not taking her to jail.

Both incidents were deemed to be "unfounded" by internal investigators with LMPD.

The lawsuit claims there are more than 50 internal incident reports surrounding Hankison’s actions in his personnel file, but he was not disciplined.  

“Brett Hankison’s conduct was absolutely terrible,” said attorney Sam Aguiar, one of Borders' attorneys. “What’s just as terrible is how protected he was within the department. The man ruined lives for years and was never held accountable.”

In Borders’ case, for example, she claims she went to Tin Roof in St. Matthews alone on April 20, 2018, when she saw Hankison, who she had met the year prior. the two were friends on social media.

When the bar closed, Hankison “insisted” on giving her a ride home, according to the lawsuit, then “invited” himself inside and sat on her couch.

After Borders went to her room to sleep, she said she woke up and Hankison was sexually assaulting her.

“When Margo regained consciousness and yelled for Hankison to get off her, he simple grabbed his uniform and left her room,” according to the lawsuit. “True to his playbook, Hankison then messaged Margo later in the day to try and suggest that the two had engaged in consensual relations.”

The bar is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The suit claims Hankison began working at Tin Roof in 2013 and wore his police uniform while on duty at the bar.

In a statement, a representative of the bar said "we find the allegations to be reprehensible, and our company does not tolerate abuse of power or discrimination in any form.  

"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. We terminated our relationship with Officer Hankison in the spring and currently use internal security staff only."

The lawsuit notes that several other woman have publicly come forward with similar allegations.

They claim that, while in uniform, he offered them rides home from bars  and sexually assaulted or harassed them. 

Some of the women have publicly said they complained to LMPD but nothing was done.

"Hankison’s routine practice of identifying vulnerable women in Louisville bars and sexually exploiting them was well known and widely ignored, dismissed, or actively concealed," according to the lawsuit. 

The officers named in the suit are Wes Troutman, Eric Black, Thomas Schardein and Michael King.

“We’re looking forward to the discovery in this case in order to hear explanations as to why this man and others were protected all the way up the ladder for so long,” Aguiar said. Attorneys Steve Romines, Lonita Baker and Harry Borders, Margo's father, are also handling the case. Margo Borders is an attorney too. 

“Hopefully the message will be sent that there will be accountability each and every time these officers use their uniform and badge to abuse women," Aguiar said. "Nobody should ever have to go through what Margo went through ever again.”

The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages.

Police shot and killed Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room tech and former EMT, during an undercover raid on her apartment on Springfield Drive as part of a series of raids elsewhere that targeted narcotics trafficking.

Hankison was charged with three felony counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into a nearby apartment. He has pleaded not guilty. 

He was fired by then interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder for violating the department's policies on using deadly force and following rules and regulations. Hankison's conduct in Taylor's shooting, Schroeder concluded, was "a shock to the conscience." 

"I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion," Schroeder wrote. 

"Your actions displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life," he wrote, referring to Hankison "blindly" firing ten rounds into Taylor's apartment. 

 This story may be updated.

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Digital Reporter

Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason can be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.