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Judge declares mistrial in case of Brett Hankison, ex-officer involved in fatal Breonna Taylor raid

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A federal judge has declared a mistrial in the case of Brett Hankison, a former Louisville police detective charged with violating the civil rights of Breonna Taylor, who tragically lost her life in a botched raid in 2020. The mistrial was declared after the jury, in deliberations since Monday, failed to reach a verdict on the charges against Hankison.

Hankison faced accusations of violating the civil rights of Breonna Taylor, her boyfriend, and neighbors during the ill-fated raid. The former officer allegedly opened fire through Taylor’s bedroom window and sliding glass door, resulting in two counts of deprivation of rights. Despite multiple rounds penetrating Taylor’s apartment and reaching a neighbor’s unit, none caused injuries.

U.S District Court Judge Rebecca Grady made the mistrial declaration following the jury’s inability to reach a decision on the charges.

The incident unfolded as Taylor, an emergency medical technician, and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker were startled awake by officers executing a search warrant. Walker, fearing a break-in, fired a single shot, prompting police to respond with lethal force, tragically claiming Taylor’s life.

The group of officers, seven in total, executed the search warrant as part of a drug investigation, yet no narcotics were found in Taylor’s apartment. Notably, these federal charges against Hankison emerged three months after he was acquitted of state wanton endangerment charges. Throughout the legal proceedings, Hankison maintained he fired the shots to protect his fellow officers, asserting he believed it was the right course of action.

Breonna Taylor’s death drew attention to the controversial use of “no-knock” warrants, leading the Justice Department to initiate a civil rights investigation in 2021 into the practices of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department.

Federal prosecutors recently disclosed an “agreement in principle” with the department, addressing findings of excessive force, unjustified restraints, unwarranted use of police dogs and tasers, invalid search warrants, and discriminatory practices against Black individuals in law enforcement activities.

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