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 November 20, 2023

Mistrial declared in Breonna Taylor case

The judge has declared a mistrial in the case regarding the death of Breonna Taylor. 

This, according to the Associated Press, comes after jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict in the case.

After several days of deliberating, the 12 jurors, on Thursday, sent a note to U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings saying that they had reached an impasse. Jennings responded by encouraging them to try to break through the impasse. The jury did so, but it was to no avail.

Per the Associated Press:

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 defendant in the case is Brett Hankison, a former police officer.

The Hill reports, "Taylor was shot and killed when Louisville, Ky. police executed a no-knock warrant on her apartment, which investigators later found to be fraudulent. After officers busted down her apartment door, Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired one shot at who he believed to be home intruders."

The outlet continues, "The shot hit a Louisville police officer in the leg, leading three police officers to fire into the apartment. Taylor, who was lying in bed, was struck and killed by one of the rounds."

Hankison was one of the three police officers who returned fire. To be clear, it was not Hankison's bullets that led to the death of Taylor. Rather, it is the manner in which he responded to the situation that has led to the charges.

The Hill reports, "While the other two officers remained in the apartment hallway and fired directly back at the source of the gunshot, Hankison left the apartment and shot into it from the side, without seeing any clear target, which prosecutors argue was a deliberate attempt to use excessive force."

It has been found that the other officers' return of fire was justified. So, unlike Hankison, they have not been charged.

Hankison was initially charged by the state with wanton endangerment. It was after he was acquitted of these charges that the federal government brought its own charges against him.

"[H]e was charged with willfully depriving Taylor and Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend of Taylor, of their constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizures, which includes the right to be free from a police officer's use of unreasonable force during a seizure," ABC News reports.

The outlet adds, "[H]e was also charged with willfully depriving Taylor's neighbors Chelsey Napper, Cody Etherton, and Zayden Flournoy of their right to be free from the deprivation of liberty without due process of law, which includes the right to be free from a police officer's use of unjustified force that shocks the conscience."

It is unclear how things will proceed now that a mistrial has been declared. There is a possibility of a retrial. But, it is unclear, at the time of this writing, whether prosecutors will pursue this possibility.

Written By:
Oliver Winters

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