Judge tells jury to continue deliberation after reaching an impasse in Brett Hankison trial

Former Louisville Police officer Brett Hankison
Former Louisville Police officer Brett Hankison(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, Pool)
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 3:11 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On the fourth day of deliberations, the federal jury deciding the case of Brett Hankison sent a note to U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings saying they are at an impasse.

The former Louisville Metro Police Department detective was tried for violating the Constitutional rights of Breonna Taylor, her boyfriend, and three neighbors in the adjoining apartment on March 13, 2020, during a raid at Taylor’s apartment when he fired blindly through two covered windows.

His bullets shattered furniture and wall hangings and punched through the drywall into the neighboring apartment. However, the shots did not injure anyone. He was shooting at what he testified was a figure holding an AR-15 rifle illuminated by muzzle flashes.

The shots fired by Hankison followed officers returning fire at Kenneth Walker, who fired a single shot that struck Sgt. Jon Mattingly in the leg.

The government described Hankison’s actions as extreme and brought in other police officers to testify against his actions. The defense said Hankinson was reacting as any normal police officer would, trying to save his fellow officers.

On Thursday, the judge gave what’s known as an Allen charge to the jury.

An Allen charge comes from an 1896 Supreme Court decision that is intended to prevent a hung jury by encouraging jurors in the minority to reconsider. Its purpose is to avoid a mistrial.

Reading from a preset form, the judge said “I realize you are having difficulty reaching a unanimous agreement, and that is not unusual,” the judge said. “If you cannot agree and this case is tried again, there is no reason to believe a new jury will have anything new.”

The judge encouraged the jury, which is comprised of five white men, one Black man and six white women, that whether they are in the majority or minority they should reconsider their decision.