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Officer involved in Breonna Taylor shooting fired over three months after her death

The Louisville Metro Police Department's police chief called Det. Brett Hankison's conduct "a shock to the conscience"

Officer involved in Breonna Taylor shooting fired over three months after her death
Cover Image Source: People gather with balloons for a vigil in memory of Breonna Taylor on June 6, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Trigger warning: This story contains graphic depictions of racism, misogyny, and police brutality that readers may find disturbing. 

One of three police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, has been fired more than three months after her death. The Louisville Metro Police Department announced on Tuesday that Det. Brett Hankison was informed in a letter signed by the police chief that his employment with the department "is terminated" effective immediately.

Calling Hankison's conduct "a shock to the conscience" in the two-page letter, chief Robert J. Schroeder said that he violated the department's regulations and deadly force standards.




Taylor, a 26-year-old Black EMT, was killed on March 13 when three plainclothes officers used a "no-knock" warrant to enter her apartment around 12:40 a.m. in an attempted drug sting and shot her eight times. According to CBS News, officials claimed the officers had announced themselves before entering Taylor's apartment door and that they only started shooting when they were "immediately met by gunfire" from Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.

However, Taylor's family said in a wrongful death lawsuit that the police never identified themselves and that Walker—a registered gun owner—fired once when the men burst through the door as the couple believed their home was being invaded.




Hankison's termination letter, which published by the police department on Twitter, states that he violated standard operating procedure when he "wantonly and blindly fired ten (10) rounds" into Taylor's apartment, reports CNN.

Noting that Hankison's "actions displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life", Schroeder added: "These rounds created a substantial danger of death and serious injury to Breonna Taylor and the three occupants of the apartment next to Ms. Taylor's."




According to ABC News, Schroeder said Hankison also violated the force's Use of Deadly Force rules when he fired the rounds "without supporting facts that your deadly force was directed at a person against whom posed an immediate threat of danger or serious injury to yourself or others."

"In fact, the ten rounds you fired were into a patio door and window which were covered with a material that completely prevented you from verifying any person as an immediate threat or more importantly any innocent persons present," he added.




"Based upon my review, these are extreme violations of our policies," Schroeder wrote. "I find your conduct a shock to the conscience. I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion. You have never been trained by the Louisville Metro Police Department to use deadly force in this fashion. Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the Department."

"The result of your action seriously impedes the Department's goal of providing the citizens of our city with the most professional law enforcement agency possible. I cannot tolerate this type of conduct by any member of the Louisville Metro Police Department. Your conduct demands your termination," he stated.



The chief also noted that Hankison was previously disciplined in January last year for "reckless conduct that injured an innocent person." Mayor Fischer said neither he nor Schroeder can discuss the announcement any further due to a state law that prohibits public statements concerning an alleged violation of departmental rules "until final disposition of charges."


Breonna's death drew widespread criticism that evolved into national protests in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis last month. In response, the Louisville, Kentucky Metro Council unanimously passed Breonna's Law earlier this month, outlawing "no-knock" warrants and requiring officers to turn on their body cameras before and after every search.

Meanwhile, the other two officers involved in the case—Jon Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove—are on administrative reassignment throughout the investigation. None of the three officers involved have been charged as of now.



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