Stew Mathews is the defense attorney representing Brett Hankison, the only police officer who is facing charges related to the raid that left Breonna Taylor dead. Hankison was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department in June 2020 following Taylor’s death March 13, 2020.
Hankison’s charges are not directly related to Taylor’s death. He was involved in the raid on Taylor’s home and is facing three counts of wanton endangerment, a Class D felony. He is accused of firing shots into a neighbor’s home.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mathews Also Represented Former University of Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing, Who Shot & Killed Sam DuBose
Mathews has experience representing police officers accused of crimes, according to The Cincinatti Enquirer. He represented Ray Tensing, the former University of Cincinnati Police Officer who shot and killed Sam DuBose in 2015.
Tensing had said he feared for his life when DuBose appeared to be attempting to pull away from a traffic stop, believing DuBose may have been trying to run over him with his car, according to The Enquirer. Mathews represented Tensing through two trials, which both ended in a mistrial.
“The incident was caught in body camera footage and prompted dozens of protests. Both trials of Tensing ended in mistrials after hung juries. The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office declined to try Tensing a third time,” The Enquirer reported.
2. Mathews Also Represented John Strutz, Who Was Accused of Murdering & Dismembering His Wife
Another one of Mathews former clients was John Strutz, who was convicted of killing and dismembering his wife in 2009, according to The Cincinatti Enquirer.
“Anybody who finds themselves in a courtroom – whether it’s for disorderly conduct or death-penalty murder – has the right to be defended,” Mathews told the Enquirer after the trial. “I talk to people nearly every day who have never been in trouble a day in their lives and find themselves charged with something. I think they’re grateful there are attorneys willing to defend them.”
Strutz’s wife, Kristan Strutz, had children with her husband. Prosecutors said he dismembered her body in order to destroy evidence, according to Fox 19.
3. Mathews Filed a Motion Attempting to Ban the News Media & Public From Observing Questioning of Prospective Jurors
Mathews filed a motion in court seeking to prevent the public and news media from observing the questioning of prospective jurors in the case. Judge Ann Bailey Smith denied the motion, ordering that the questioning of jurors would remain open to the public, according to the Courier-Journal. Read more about Smith here. While Smith denied Mathews’ motion to bar the public and news media from watching the questioning, she imposed some limitations, ordering that no photo or video would be permitted inside the courtroom, the newspaper reported at the time of the decision in late January 2022.
She said that she determined the “narrowly tailored limitation” should be granted due to the “extensive media coverage this case has generated,” according to the Courier-Journal.
“Jurors will individually take the witness stand and submit to questioning by counsel, a process that is inherently intimidating to a lay person,” she wrote in the order, according to the newspaper. “The court finds that jurors will be likely to be less intimidated by this process, and therefore more likely to be candid in their responses, if they know there is no possibility that the general public and the media present at the proceeding have the ability to broadcast or otherwise record their testimony.”
Mathews said at a hearing covered by the newspaper that his goal was to ensure a fair trial for his client, “not to start a war with the media.”
“Rather, my goal is to do everything in my power to ensure that to ensure that Brett Hankison can be tried by a jury that’s fair, that’s impartial and that’s unbiased,” he said. “And I think this motion, perhaps, will give you a tool to see, or to ensure, that that happens.”
4. Mathews Is an Attorney With Dolle & Mathews Co. & Has Been Practicing Law Since 1977
He graduated from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law-Northern Kentucky University, his page says.
Mathews is the son of former Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge William S. Mathews, The Enquirer reported.
5. Mathews Ran for City Council in Cincinnati & Applied to Become a Common Pleas Court Judge in 2009
Mathews ran for Cincinnati City Council in 2005 and applied to become a Common Pleas Court judge in 2009, according to The Cincinatti Enquirer.
His 2005 Smart Voter bio said he was married to wife, Joanie, and has four adult children. He also has grandchildren his bio says.
His bio says he is a member of St. James of the Valley Church, and is the former chairman of Parish Council. His hobbies include hunting, biking and cutting grass, his bio says.