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Judge declares mistrial after jury deadlocks in trial of ex-officer in deadly Breonna Taylor raid

by Andrew Wright
5 comments
Mistrial

In a recent legal development, a federal judge has declared a mistrial in the case involving Brett Hankison, a former Louisville police officer. The trial centered on civil rights charges related to a tragic incident, the deadly raid that resulted in the loss of Breonna Taylor’s life.

Brett Hankison faced charges of employing excessive force that infringed upon the rights of Breonna Taylor, her boyfriend, and her adjacent neighbors. The incident occurred during a drug warrant search on March 13, 2020, when officers came under fire. Hankison discharged a total of 10 rounds into Breonna Taylor’s window and a glass door. Some of these bullets entered a neighboring apartment but thankfully did not injure anyone.

The jury, composed mainly of individuals of white ethnicity, faced significant difficulties in arriving at a verdict over the course of several days. Ultimately, on Thursday afternoon, the jury communicated to U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings that they had reached an impasse in their deliberations. Despite the judge’s encouragement to continue deliberating, the jurors were unable to reach a consensus.

During the course of the week, the judge noted instances of “elevated voices” emanating from the jury room, prompting court security officials to intervene. On Thursday, the jurors informed the judge that they were deadlocked on both counts against Brett Hankison and could not reach a decision.

The mistrial has the potential to lead to a retrial for Brett Hankison, although this decision will be made by federal prosecutors at a later date.

It’s worth noting that Hankison was previously acquitted by a Kentucky jury last year on wanton endangerment charges, with state prosecutors alleging that he had put Breonna Taylor’s neighbors in jeopardy. Subsequently, several months after his acquittal, the U.S. Department of Justice brought forth new charges against Hankison, along with other officers involved in obtaining the warrant.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized that Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman pursuing a career in nursing, “should be alive today” when announcing the federal charges in August 2022. The charges Hankison faced carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Notably, Hankison was the sole officer to face criminal charges for discharging his weapon during the Taylor raid. Prosecutors determined that two other officers were justified in returning fire, as one of them had been shot in the leg.

In the closing arguments of the trial, federal prosecutor Michael Songer asserted that Hankison, as a law enforcement officer, was not above the law. Songer contended that Hankison’s actions of firing blindly into the building, unable to discern a target, were fundamentally wrong.

Hankison’s defense attorney, Stewart Mathews, countered that his client acted swiftly to aid his fellow officers, who he believed were under threat from a gunman inside Taylor’s apartment. It’s important to note that Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, had fired a single shot when the police forcefully entered, as he believed there was an intruder.

Hankison testified that he observed the shot from Taylor’s boyfriend in the hallway after breaching the door. In response, he backed away and fired shots into the side of the apartment, asserting that he had no other choice but to react in that moment of chaos.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mistrial

What were the charges against Brett Hankison in the Breonna Taylor case?

Brett Hankison faced charges related to using excessive force that violated the civil rights of Breonna Taylor, her boyfriend, and her neighbors. He was accused of firing 10 shots during the deadly raid.

Why was a mistrial declared in this case?

A mistrial was declared because the 12-member jury, primarily composed of white individuals, could not reach a verdict after several days of deliberation. They were deadlocked on both counts against Brett Hankison.

What were the consequences of the mistrial?

The mistrial could lead to a retrial of Brett Hankison, but the decision on whether to proceed with a new trial would be made by federal prosecutors at a later date.

What was the previous legal outcome for Brett Hankison in the Breonna Taylor case?

Brett Hankison was acquitted by a Kentucky jury last year on wanton endangerment charges related to the incident. However, federal charges were brought against him and other officers involved in obtaining the warrant several months after his acquittal.

What was the maximum sentence Brett Hankison faced if convicted on the federal charges?

If convicted on the federal charges related to the Breonna Taylor case, Brett Hankison could have faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Were any other officers charged in connection with the raid?

Brett Hankison was the only officer charged criminally for discharging his weapon during the Taylor raid. Prosecutors determined that two other officers were justified in returning fire as one of them had been shot in the leg.

What arguments were presented during the trial?

Federal prosecutors argued that Brett Hankison, as a law enforcement officer, was not above the law and that his actions of firing blindly into the building were wrong. Hankison’s defense attorney countered that he believed his fellow officers were in danger from a gunman inside Taylor’s apartment and that his reaction was reasonable given the chaotic situation.

Who is Breonna Taylor, and what were the circumstances of her death?

Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old Black woman studying to be a nurse. She tragically lost her life during a police raid on her apartment on March 13, 2020. Her boyfriend fired a single shot when the police forcefully entered, believing there was an intruder, leading to a exchange of gunfire that resulted in her death.

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5 comments

LegalEagle November 17, 2023 - 1:35 am

why only hankison got charged tho, others got away?

Reply
InfoSeeker99 November 17, 2023 - 1:39 am

thanks for the timeline, helps understand the case better.

Reply
Anonymous November 17, 2023 - 4:09 am

mistrial declard in breonna taylor case, not surprisin, jury couldnt decide.

Reply
JusticeForAll November 17, 2023 - 7:37 am

breonna taylor case, so sad, hope justice served eventually.

Reply
NewsLover123 November 17, 2023 - 8:09 pm

so they wanna retry hankison, long legal battle ahead!

Reply

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