Judge Declares Mistrial In Breonna Taylor Case

On Thursday, the federal civil rights trial of Brett Hankison, the former Louisville police officer who faced charges related to the raid that resulted in the death of Breonna Taylor, was thrown out and declared a mistrial.

After five hours of deliberations, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on charges accusing Hankison for the use of excessive force that violated Taylor, her boyfriend, and her neighbors’ constitutional rights during the botched drug warrant investigation in Louisville on March 13, 2020.

Hankison was indicted on charges relating to the violation of the civil rights of the people involved. However, none of the shots penetrated into a neighboring apartment resulting in no injury. The 12-member jury agonized for several days to arrive at a verdict prompting the U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings to advise further discussions.

The jury, however, was unable to come to a unanimous decision, resulting in a mistrial. The federal prosecutors will now have to make a decision as to whether or not there could be a retrial. Lead federal prosecutor Michael Songer indicated the resources needed for another trial prior to the mistrial announcement.

Songer sought more deliberation, yet Judge Jennings doubted a jury’s ability to reach a verdict, saying that “the totality of the circumstances may be beyond repair.” The mistrial disappointed Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, but her attorney, Lonita Baker, emphasized that it is not an acquittal, providing hope for future legal proceedings.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed federal charges against Hankison and the other officers who obtained the warrant. In August 2022, Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that Taylor should be alive today. He argued that Hankison, despite being a law enforcement officer, should be held responsible for his part in the reckless shooting.

Hankison’s defense argued that he acted quickly to help other officers whom he thought were under attack. Taylor’s boyfriend fired a single shot, assuming that an intruder was breaking into the house on the night of the raid.

Officers fired back and chaos ensued. These events culminated in the death of Taylor, and protests all over the country, especially after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, skyrocketed. The “no-knock” warrants also featured in Taylor’s case, would later be outlawed in Louisville.

The then-police chief was fired after failing to insist that the officers used body cameras while on duty. Three other officers involved in obtaining the warrant face charges in a separate federal case, with one officer pleading guilty to falsifying the warrant.