The federal trial of Brett Hankison, a former police officer accused of violating Breonna Taylor’s civil rights, has concluded in a mistrial due to a jury deadlock. This marks the second instance where Hankison has avoided conviction in relation to the case, having been found not guilty on state charges in the prior year. Breonna Taylor’s death in a poorly executed police raid in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 13, 2020, became a symbol of racial injustice and sparked nationwide protests.
The trial revolved around whether Brett Hankison’s use of force violated the rights of Breonna Taylor, her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, and their neighbors. During the execution of a “no-knock” search warrant, Walker fired a shot, thinking the officers were intruders. In response, Hankison fired 10 rounds, but it was another officer, Myles Cosgrove, whose shot killed Taylor. Prosecutors argued that Cosgrove’s use of force was justified given Walker’s initial gunfire.
Hankison, admitting he couldn’t see a target, argued that he believed a shootout was occurring and acted to protect his fellow officers. His attorney contended that he swiftly responded to the perceived danger. The jury, in its fourth day of deliberations, could not reach a decision on the two counts against Hankison, leading to the mistrial.
Despite facing an impasse, Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings encouraged the jury to persist in reaching a verdict. Security officials were called to the jury room due to “elevated voices.” The charges against Hankison carried a maximum life sentence. In March 2022, a Kentucky state jury found Hankison not guilty on three counts related to the incident. Three other former officers involved in the raid face separate federal charges. One of them, Kelly Goodlett, has pleaded guilty and is expected to testify against the others, Joshua Jaynes and Kyle Meany, in their joint trial next year. In December 2022, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, received a $2 million settlement from the city.