The federal trial of an ex-police officer accused of violating Breonna Taylor’s civil rights has ended in a mistrial with a deadlocked jury.
It marks the second time Brett Hankison has avoided a conviction relating to the case, after he was found not guilty on state charges last year.
Taylor was killed in a botched police raid in Louisville, Kentucky, on 13 March 2020.
Her name became a rallying cry at racial justice protests nationwide.
It was not immediately clear whether prosecutors would seek a re-trial.
The nine-day case revolved around whether the use of force by Hankison, 47, had violated the rights of Taylor, her boyfriend Kenneth Walker and her next-door neighbours.
While Taylor, a 26-year-old nursing student, and her boyfriend slept at her apartment in the early morning hours, officers executed a “no-knock” search warrant for a narcotics raid, using a battering ram.
Taylor’s boyfriend fired a single shot when officers knocked down the door because he said they did not announce themselves and he thought they were intruders.
Hankison fired 10 rounds through Taylor’s window and sliding glass door.
Another officer, Myles Cosgrove, fired the shot that killed Taylor, but prosecutors said his use of deadly force was justified because Walker had opened fire first.
The shots Hankison fired did not strike anyone, but some landed in the neighbouring apartment, which was home to a young child.
On the stand in Louisville, the ex-detective admitted he could not see a target but believed a shootout was taking place and acted to save his and his fellow officers’ lives.
Hankison’s attorney argued he acted swiftly to help his colleagues, believing they were in danger because of gunfire coming from inside the apartment.
“I had to react,” Hankison testified, according to the Associated Press. “I had no choice.”
Jurors were in their fourth day of deliberations over the two counts against Hankison when they told the judge on Thursday that they could not come to a decision.
District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings had earlier urged the 12-member panel to keep trying to reach a verdict after they indicated they were at an impasse, the Associated Press reported.
She told the court that security officials in the building had to visit the jury room in response to “elevated voices” heard during the deliberations, the outlet added.
The dual deprivation-of-rights charges against Hankison carried a maximum sentence of life in prison.
In March 2022, a Kentucky state jury spent about three hours in deliberation before finding Hankison not guilty on three counts of felony wanton endangerment during the incident.
But three other former officers involved with the raid have been charged in separate federal cases.
One of them, Kelly Goodlett, has pleaded guilty to falsifying the warrant and is expected to testify against the others, Joshua Jaynes and Kyle Meany, in their joint trial next year.
In December, Walker received a $2m settlement from the city over the incident.