Mistrial Announced in Trial of Former Officer in Breonna Taylor Case

by Ethan Kim
1 comment

In a recent development, a federal judge announced a mistrial when the jury could not reach a consensus on the charges against Brett Hankison, a former Louisville police officer involved in the raid that led to the death of Breonna Taylor. Hankison faced charges for violating civil rights and using excessive force by firing into Taylor’s apartment and neighboring units during a botched drug warrant search on March 13, 2020.

The jury, predominantly Caucasian, found themselves at an impasse after days of deliberations, culminating in a note to U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings stating their inability to agree on a verdict. During this week’s deliberations, heightened tensions were evident in the jury room, prompting intervention by court security.

With the jury deadlocked on both counts against Hankison, the possibility of a retrial hinges on a future decision by federal prosecutors.

Hankison, 47, previously faced state charges of wanton endangerment for endangering Taylor’s neighbors, but was acquitted by a Kentucky jury. Following his state trial acquittal, the U.S. Department of Justice levied new federal charges against him and other officers involved in the warrant’s preparation.

Attorney General Merrick Garland highlighted the tragedy of Taylor, a 26-year-old African American nursing student, being deceased, during the announcement of these charges in August 2022. Hankison’s charges, if convicted, could have led to life imprisonment.

Hankison stands as the sole officer who discharged his weapon during the raid to face criminal charges. The actions of two other officers who returned fire, injuring one in the leg, were deemed justified by prosecutors.

Federal prosecutor Michael Songer, in his closing argument, emphasized that Hankison’s actions were not above the law, arguing that he fired blindly into the apartment without a clear target. Hankison’s defense, led by attorney Stewart Mathews, argued that Hankison’s rapid response was to protect his colleagues, believing they were under attack by a gunman inside Taylor’s apartment. Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, had fired a single shot as police entered, mistaking them for intruders.

Hankison testified about his actions on the raid night, stating he had to fire after seeing the shot from Walker, and believing he had no other choice in that chaotic situation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Breonna Taylor trial

What was the outcome of Brett Hankison’s trial in the Breonna Taylor case?

A federal judge declared a mistrial in Brett Hankison’s trial due to a jury deadlock. Hankison, a former Louisville police officer, faced charges for his actions during a flawed drug warrant search that resulted in the death of Breonna Taylor. The jury, predominantly white, could not reach a unanimous decision on the civil rights charges against him.

Why did the jury deadlock in Hankison’s trial?

The jury in Hankison’s trial struggled to reach a verdict over several days of deliberations. They were unable to agree on whether Hankison’s actions of firing 10 shots into Breonna Taylor’s apartment and neighboring units constituted excessive force and a violation of civil rights.

What were the charges against Brett Hankison?

Brett Hankison was charged with using excessive force that violated the civil rights of Breonna Taylor, her boyfriend, and her next-door neighbors. He was accused of recklessly firing into Taylor’s apartment during a drug warrant search.

What might happen following the mistrial in Hankison’s case?

Following the mistrial, there could be a potential retrial for Hankison, but this decision will be made by federal prosecutors at a later date. Hankison previously faced and was acquitted of state charges of wanton endangerment in a separate trial.

What was the significance of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s statement?

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized the tragedy of Breonna Taylor’s death, a 26-year-old Black woman studying to be a nurse, asserting that she should still be alive. His statement came when announcing the federal charges against Hankison in August 2022, highlighting the gravity of the case and the federal government’s stance on it.

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1 comment

FinanceWhiz87 November 17, 2023 - 1:22 am

Hankison acquitted before, fed charges brought later, what’s next?


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