Breonna Taylor’s mother and sister were swiftly removed from a courtroom in Louisville, Kentucky last week after the pair arrived wearing commemorative clothing to honor the fallen 26-year-old. The incident occurred during the criminal trial of former Louisville Metro Police Department officer Brett Hankison, who currently faces three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the fatal search warrant that claimed Taylor’s life.
On Feb. 24, Breonna’s mother, Tamika Palmer, wore a red and black letterman-style jacket that had Taylor’s face embroidered on the front and the phrase “Say Her Name” patched in bold letters on the back. The sleeve featured the date that the young EMT worker was shot in her apartment, a day that the world would remember on March 12, 2020.
Juniyah Palmer, Taylor’s younger sister, also wore a shirt to commemorate her fallen sibling during the trial on Feb 22. The front of the tie-dye shirt featured the words, “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor”, a slogan that went viral in the months following Taylor’s untimely passing. During an interview with The Courier-Journal, Juniyah said that an official from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office asked them to leave the courtroom after they reportedly told her and mother that their clothing wasn’t “going to work.” Juniyah and Palmer did not return to the courtroom following the incident but were allowed back to the trial on Feb 25.
Upset and frustrated, Juniyah took to Instagram to call out the department officials for the insensitive move.
“Today we have been kicked out and escorted out of the hall of justice! My mother was wearing her jacket that has Breonna on it, not only that Sherrif Anothey Goffner touched her jacket and said “this isn’t accepted” My mom then asked was there a dress code for court and he kept ignoring us,” she wrote, noting in another post how her feelings were “hurt” as she was trying to “voice her opinion.”
In a statement, Lieutenant Carl Yates of the Jefferson County Sherrif’s command staff argued that Palmer’s jacket failed “standard ‘dress code’ for spectators in the courtroom.”
“No one should wear any attire or display any object that is so inherently prejudicial that it would deprive the defendant of a fair trial,” he continued. “Any attire that prominently displays sympathy for either side in a trial may prejudice the jury, or appear to do so, and it could result in a mistrial or an appellate court’s reversal of the jury’s ultimate decision.”
The deputy claimed that after he asked one of the women, presumably Juniyah, to cover her Breonna tee, “she responded with foul language.” That’s when the family was asked to leave the courtroom.
Hankison, who wasn’t charged with Taylor’s death, faces three counts of wanton endangerment for putting occupants of the young Black woman’s apartment complex at risk. Rounds from his gun traveled into one unit where a man, a pregnant woman, and a young child were reportedly living, the Courier-Journal noted.