The judge reported that there were “raised voices” coming from the jury room at times during deliberations this week, and that court security officers had to go into the room. Jurors then told the judge Thursday that they were deadlocked on both counts against Hankison and could not make a decision, prompting Jennings to declare a mistrial.
A mistrial could result in a new trial for Hankison, but that would be determined by federal prosecutors at a later date.
Hankison, 47, was acquitted by a Kentucky jury last year of wanton endangerment. State prosecutors had alleged he illegally put Taylor’s neighbors in danger. Months after his acquittal last year, the U.S. Department of Justice filed new charges against Hankison, along with a group of other officers involved in crafting the arrest warrant.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman studying to become a nurse, “should be alive today” when he announced the federal charges in August 2022. Hankison’s charges carried a maximum sentence of life in prison. .
Hankison was the only officer who fired his weapon the night of the Taylor raid to be criminally charged. Prosecutors determined that two other officers were justified in returning fire after one of them was shot in the leg.
Federal prosecutor Michael Songer said in closing arguments in the trial Monday that Hankison “was a law enforcement officer, but he was not above the law.” Songer argued that Hankison could not see a target and knew that shooting blindly at the building was a mistake.
Hankison’s attorney, Stewart Mathews, countered that he acted quickly to help his fellow officers, who he said were being “executed” by a gunman firing from inside Taylor’s apartment. Taylor’s boyfriend had fired a single shot when police burst in the door. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he thought an intruder was breaking in.
“If his perception was reasonable in the chaos of that moment, it was not criminal,” Mathews said.
The night of the raid, Hankison said he saw Taylor’s boyfriend shot in the hallway after his door was forced open. He backed away and ran around the corner of the building, firing shots into the side of the apartment.
“I had to react,” he testified. “I had no choice.”