The prosecution of Brett Hankison, the former police detective who fired 10 bullets through Breonna Taylor’s apartment during a fatal 2020 raid in Louisville, Ky., ended in a mistrial on Thursday after the jury said it could not reach a unanimous verdict on federal civil rights charges.
It was the second time that Mr. Hankison had gone to trial on charges related to the case and avoided a conviction. The Justice Department charged Mr. Hankison last year after a jury found him not guilty of state charges of endangering Ms. Taylor’s neighbors by firing several times through a covered window and a sliding-glass door during a nighttime police raid.
Two other Louisville police officers, both of whom were white, shot Ms. Taylor, a Black 26-year-old emergency room technician whose death led to massive protests against racism and police violence in Louisville and elsewhere.
Mr. Hankison, who is also white, did not strike anyone with his gunfire, but some of his bullets entered a neighboring apartment where a pregnant woman, her boyfriend and her 5-year-old son were sleeping.
Jurors had been deliberating since Monday and told the judge on Thursday that they were deadlocked, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial, according to The Associated Press. It was not immediately clear if the Justice Department planned to retry the case.
Mr. Hankison, who was fired following the shooting, had been charged with violating the rights both of Ms. Taylor and of the family next door. Prosecutors argued in court that he did not have legal justification to use deadly force when he fired the shots. Mr. Hankison took the stand in his defense, testifying that he felt frightened and helpless and believed someone inside the apartment was continuing to fire at his fellow officers, according to The Courier Journal.
When the police burst through Ms. Taylor’s apartment door shortly after midnight on March 13, 2020, Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend fired a shot that struck an officer in the leg. He said later that he had believed the officers were intruders, because he and Ms. Taylor had not heard the officers announce themselves.
The two officers who shot Ms. Taylor — Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly — have never been charged. Unlike those officers, who were returning fire coming from inside the apartment, Mr. Hankison was not justified in firing through the window and sliding door, which were covered by blinds, Justice Department lawyers argued.
Three other officers were charged by federal prosecutors with knowingly including false information in an affidavit in order to get a judge to approve the raid. One of those officers, Kelly Goodlett, a former detective, pleaded guilty last year.
In doing so, Ms. Goodlett admitted that there had not been enough evidence to support a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s apartment, and that she had not objected when a fellow detective included false information in the warrant application.
That fellow detective, Joshua Jaynes, and a sergeant, Kyle Meany, were charged with violating Ms. Taylor’s rights. Both officers were among several who were fired by the Louisville Metro Police Department following the raid. They have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting a trial.
Earlier this year, the Justice Department found that Louisville’s Police Department had a pattern of being abusive and discriminatory. The government’s report found that the department had shown a broad pattern of discrimination against Black people and those with behavioral health problems.
The judge who authorized the raid on Ms. Taylor’s apartment — based in part on the false information provided by the police — had initially signed off on a “no-knock” raid, in which police are allowed to burst into homes without warning. But the orders were later changed to require that the police knock and identify themselves.
Officers involved in the raid said they had announced themselves, but Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend and neighbors at the apartment complex said they only heard the officers bang on the door. The outcry following Ms. Taylor’s death led several state and local governments to ban or restrict the use of no-knock warrants.
The federal civil rights charges that Mr. Hankison faced carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.