Mistrial declared after federal jury deadlocks in trial of ex-officer in deadly Breonna Taylor raid
Eds: UPDATES: to add comments by judge and prosecutor in court and reaction afterward from a Taylor family attorney. Updates summary. Minor editing throughout. With AP Photos.
By DYLAN LOVAN
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) __ Jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict on federal civil rights charges Thursday in the trial of a former Louisville police officer charged in the police raid that killed Breonna Taylor, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial.
Brett Hankison was charged with using excessive force that violated the rights of Taylor, her boyfriend and her next-door neighbors. Hankison fired 10 shots into the Black woman`s window and a glass door after officers came under fire during a flawed drug warrant search on March 13, 2020. Some of his shots flew into a neighboring apartment, but none of them struck anyone.
The 12-member, mostly white jury struggled fruitlessly to reach a verdict over several days. On Thursday afternoon, they sent a note to the judge saying they were at an impasse. U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings urged them to keep trying, and they returned to deliberations.
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 __ prompting Jennings` declaration of a mistrial.
The mistrial could result in a retrial of Hankison, but that would be determined by federal prosecutors at a later date.
Federal prosecutors didn`t immediately respond to an email afterward seeking comment.
Before the mistrial was declared, the lead federal prosecutor, Michael Songer, said in court that it would take "enormous resources ... to retry this case." Songer wanted the jury to keep deliberating.
Jennings said she believed the jury would not be able to reach a verdict. "I think the totality of the circumstances may be beyond repair in this case,`` the judge said. ``They have a disagreement that they cannot get past."
Lonita Baker, an attorney for Taylor`s family, said afterward that Taylor`s mother, Tamika Palmer, was disappointed with the outcome but remained encouraged "because a mistrial is not an acquittal. And so we live another day to fight for justice for Breonna."
Hankison, 47, was acquitted by a Kentucky jury last year on wanton endangerment charges. State prosecutors had alleged he illegally put Taylor's neighbors in danger. Months after his acquittal last year, the U.S. Department of Justice brought the new charges against Hankison, along with separate charges against a group of other officers involved in crafting the warrant.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Taylor, a 26-year-old nursing student, "should be alive today" when he announced the federal charges in August 2022. The charges that Hankison faced carried a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Hankison was the only officer who fired his weapon the night of the Taylor raid
to be criminally charged.
By The Associated Press, Copyright 2023