On Thursday, a judge declared a mistrial in the federal civil rights trial of the ex-Louisville police officer charged in the police raid that killed Breonna Taylor.
According to AP, after days of deliberation, the 12-member jury of mostly white people couldn’t agree on a unanimous verdict for Brett Hankison, which led U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings to declare a mistrial.
The judge reported there were “elevated voices” coming from the jury room at times during deliberations, and court security officials had to visit the room. Jurors then told the judge Thursday they were deadlocked on both counts against Hankison, and could not come to a decision.
“I think the totality of the circumstances may be beyond repair in this case,” Judge Jennings said. “They have a disagreement that they cannot get past.”
Hankison isn’t out of hot water just yet. The mistrial could lead to a retrial of the former officer, which will be determined by federal prosecutors at a later time.
The trial for Brett Hankison Began Nov 13.
The federal trial of former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison began Nov 13. According to the Associated Press, a jury deliberated for over an hour on Monday as federal prosecutors grilled Hankison about his involvement in the botched raid that ultimately took the life of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. He has been accused of violating Taylor’s civil rights.
During his testimony Monday, Hankison said that he fired bullets into Taylor’s window and sliding door as Louisville officers conducted a drug search of the young EMS worker’s apartment in March 2020. Hankison testified that he did not see a shooter when he opened fire, but he claimed that he saw “muzzle flashes from gunfire” erupting from inside the apartment, the Associated Press noted.
Unaware that the police were conducting a raid, Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker III fired his gun once at the door out of self-defense as Hankison and at least seven other officers forced entry into the apartment. Sadly, Taylor was shot and killed when officers fired off 32 rounds inside her apartment.
The former police officer, who was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) for shooting “blindly” during the chaotic drug raid, claimed that he shot into Taylor’s apartment to “stop the threat” of Walker’s gun and to “defend” himself and the lives of his team.
In 2022, Hankison was acquitted by a jury during his felony wanton endangerment trial after a judge deemed that he was innocent of endangering one of Taylor’s neighbors during the violent drug investigation. The charge was not connected to Taylor’s fatal shooting. However, on Monday’s trial, federal prosecutors argued that Hankison’s actions played a role in the EMS worker’s demise. Prosecutor Michael Songer claimed that the former Louisville officer “dishonored” his team and that he was aware “firing blindly was wrong” on the day of the shooting.
At the end of the first day of the intense civil rights trial, the former officer’s attorney, Stewart Mathews, pled for the jury to consider the “chaos” Hankison was “surrounded with” as he tried to “protect the lives of his fellow officers and himself.”
If convicted, Hankison could face life in prison.
As previously reported, investigators discovered that a bogus no-knock warrant was used during the tragic shooting of Breonna Taylor in 2020.
In August 2022, four of the officers involved in the fatal shooting were federally charged with violating Taylor’s civil rights during the botched raid. Kentucky detectives Kelly Goodlett and Joshua Jaynes were charged with falsifying the affidavit used to conduct the reckless search. In a separate indictment, Brett Hankison was charged with using excessive force while executing the search warrant.
In March, the Justice Department (DOJ) released a scathing 90-page report detailing the grim and discriminatory law enforcement tactics that have long plagued LMPD. The two-year investigation was spawned by Taylor’s fatal shooting.
Investigators discovered that the LMPD exercised a shocking level of misconduct throughout the years. Officers were found guilty of using excessive force and drawing up invalid no-knock warrants to conduct searches. They were also accused of conducting “unlawful stops” and of “harassing people during street sweeps.”
So far, no officers have been convicted for Taylor’s murder. Shockingly, in April, Myles Cosgrove, the officer who fired the fatal bullet that fatally wounded Taylor was reportedly hired as a deputy by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, which is about an hour northeast of Louisville. Protests sparked in the area shortly after the news made headlines.
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