A mistrial was recently declared in the federal civil rights trial of a former Louisville officer charged in the raid that killed Breonna Taylor. Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict after hearing evidence in the explosive case.
Brett Hankinson stood accused of using excessive force when he returned fire after being shot at. Prosecutors said he violated the civil rights of Taylor, her boyfriend and a neighbor while executing a search warrant later deemed “flawed.”
Rounds he fired entered a neighbor’s apartment but did not strike anyone.
The jury deliberated for several days before it was determined that a unanimous verdict was not forthcoming. Thursday afternoon they sent a note to the judge declaring they were hopelessly deadlocked.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings urged them to continue weighing the evidence, but to no avail.
Jennings noted there was shouting coming from the room at various times while the jury was inside. Court officials visited the jury room to assess the situation before the eventual declaration of a mistrial.
As the mistrial was being considered, lead federal prosecutor Michael Songer told the court that retrying the case would take “enormous resources.” He asked that the jury continue its deliberations despite reaching an impasse.
Hankison may yet face a retrial, though that determination must be made by prosecutors.
The case took on racial overtones nationally as Taylor was Black and Hankison is White. The former officer was acquitted in a separate state trial last year and was the only one of three officers who fired their weapons to be criminally charged.
A Kentucky grand jury declined to indict the other two police officers in the raid. State Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not recommend charges for Hankison’s colleagues.
There were loud calls for “justice” as the Taylor incident was linked to George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery’s deaths in 2020. She was an emergency medical technician who was asleep with her boyfriend on March 13.
Police conducted a no-knock raid on the apartment as part of a drug raid in connection to Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. He did not live there, and the new boyfriend fired a shot that wounded an officer.
He claimed he did not hear the police announce themselves.
As the wounded officer and others returned fire, six shots struck Taylor and killed her.