Thursday, November 16, 2023 – A federal judge has declared a mistrial after jurors failed to reach a verdict in the civil rights trial of a former Louisville police detective who was part of the botched raid that killed a black woman, Breonna Taylor in 2020.
Brett Hankison was charged with violating the civil rights of the 26-year-old Black woman, her boyfriend and her neighbours when he opened fire through a window and a sliding glass door into her apartment during the raid.
Hankison was charged with two counts of deprivation of rights for firing 10 rounds through Taylor’s bedroom window and sliding glass door, which were covered with blinds and a blackout curtain. Multiple bullets went through a wall into her neighbour’s apartment. Investigators said none of Hankison’s rounds hit anyone.
U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady declared the mistrial after the jury, which began deliberations Monday, failed to reach a decision on both charges.
Taylor, an emergency medical technician, was sleeping at home with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker when officers charged into the apartment, using a battering ram to break down the door. The couple was roused from their bed by the banging, and Walker fired a single shot from a handgun, believing intruders had broken into the house.
After he fired and struck an officer, two officers then fired 22 shots, one of which fatally struck Taylor in the chest, officials have said.
The group of seven officers was executing a search warrant at around 12:45 a.m. on March 13, 2020, as part of a drug investigation into a former boyfriend of Taylor’s. Police did not find any narcotics at the apartment.
The federal charges against Hankison were brought three months after a jury acquitted him of state wanton endangerment charges. The former detective admitted to firing the shots but said he did so to protect his fellow police officers.
His attorney, Stewart Mathews, said that Hankison thought he was doing the right thing.
Taylor’s death brought attention to the use of “no knock” warrants, and the Justice Department opened a separate civil rights investigation in 2021 into the patterns and practices of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department.
In March, federal prosecutors announced they entered into an “agreement in principle” with the department to resolve the investigation’s findings, which included the use of excessive force, unjustified neck restraints and the unreasonable use of police dogs and tasers, searches based on invalid warrants, and unlawful discrimination “against Black people in its enforcement activities.”