Breonna Taylor trial: What to know after jury deadlocks on accused officer?
A federal jury deadlocked Thursday in the civil rights case against a police officer involved in the 2020 shooting death of Breonna Taylor. Forced mistrial.
after Nearly a week of deliberationThe jury was unable to agree to convict former officer Brett Hankison of using excessive force that violated the rights of Taylor, her boyfriend, and their neighbors.
Taylor’s death received little attention at the time, but later added to already high tensions around police in 2020 after evidence in the case became public and sparked protests surrounding the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Here’s what you need to know about the issue:
The shooting of Breonna Taylor
Taylor was shot and killed when Louisville, Kentucky, police executed a no-knock warrant at her apartment, which investigators later found to be fraudulent. After officers broke down her apartment door, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a single shot at those he believed had entered the home.
The bullet struck a Louisville police officer in the leg, prompting three police officers to shoot into the apartment. Taylor, who was lying on the bed, was hit by one of the bullets and killed.
Prosecutors said other bullets penetrated the walls and entered the apartment next door, endangering a family with a young child. No one in the other apartment was injured.
After a two-year investigation into the shooting, four people were charged with federal crimes, including Hankison. Officer Kelly Goodlett pleaded guilty to a charge of forging an arrest warrant and is expected to testify against the other two officers, Joshua Gaines and Kyle Meaney, at trial in 2024.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a Scathing report concerning systematic abuses at the Louisville Police Department, in March, alleging that Louisville police often used excessive force, conducted illegal traffic stops and searches, and discriminated against black people.
The case against Brett Hankison
Of the three police officers who fired into the apartment, prosecutors charged only Hankison, arguing that the other two officers were justified in returning fire.
While the other two officers remained in the doorway of the apartment and fired directly at the source of the bullet, Hankison left the apartment and shot her from the side, without seeing any obvious target, which prosecutors say was a deliberate attempt to use excessive force. .
Prosecutors said Hankison’s shots did not kill Taylor, but rather entered a neighbor’s apartment, unlawfully endangering that family.
Federal prosecutor Michael Songer said during the trial that Hankison “was a law enforcement officer, but he was not above the law.”
The defense argued that Hankison acted quickly to help his fellow officers.
Defense lawyer Stuart Matthews said: “If his perception was reasonable given the chaos of that moment, then this was not criminal.”
After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated for almost a full week. The judge had to send security into the deliberation room after she heard screaming from inside, the Associated Press reported.
Despite urging the judge and federal prosecutor to make a decision, the jury announced they were deadlocked on the two counts against Hankison, resulting in a mistrial.
what happened after that
The Associated Press reported that Taylor’s mother was disappointed with the outcome of the case, but had not given up hope in a future trial.
“Because a mistrial is not an acquittal. And so we live another day to fight for justice for Breonna,” she said.
It is unclear whether prosecutors will try to retry the case, which Songer said would require “enormous resources” to try again.
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. Hankison faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
It was Hankison Found not guilty of state criminal charges last year related to the shooting.
The trial of Officers Gaines and Meaney was scheduled for October, but has been postponed until 2024.