Louisville Police Officer Involved in Breonna Taylor Shooting Fired

Personnel with the Federal Bureau of Investigation stage outside the apartment of Breonna Taylor as the agency executes a search warrant of the home in Louisville, Ky., June 19, 2020. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

One of the police officers involved in the fatal shooting in March of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor has been fired, the Louisville Metro Police Department announced Tuesday.

The Kentucky city’s police department released a termination letter to Officer Brett Hankison calling his actions “a shock to the conscience,” more than three months after Hankison shot Taylor, an emergency medical worker, eight times in her apartment while serving a no-knock warrant issued on suspicion of drug activity.

Taylor died after Hankison “wantonly and blindly” fired 10 rounds of gunfire into Taylor’s apartment on March 13, demonstrating “extreme indifference to the value of human life,” Chief of Police Robert Schroeder states in the letter.

“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,” the letter states.

Officers claimed they announced themselves when they entered Taylor’s apartment searching for illegal drugs and said they were “immediately met by gunfire” from Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend. A wrongful death lawsuit levied by Taylor’s family said that Walker, a registered gun owner, thought an intruder was breaking into the apartment.

The Louisville police chief said Hankison committed “extreme violations of our policies.” He violated obedience to rules and regulations as well as the department’s use of deadly force policy by firing “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,” Schroeder said.

“In fact the ten (10) rounds you fired were into a patio door and window which were covered with material that completely prevented you from verifying any person as an immediate threat or more importantly any innocent persons present,” 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 police chief wrote, adding that Hankison’s conduct “demands” his termination, effective immediately.

The letter also said that Hankison was disciplined in January of last year for reckless conduct that resulted in an “innocent person” being injured, but details were not given.

Hankison and two other officers involved in Taylor’s death were placed on administrative reassignment as an investigation into the fatal incident progressed. No officers have been charged.

Louisville has since banned no-knock warrants, the type that was issued for Taylor’s residence. The warrant was issued because police suspected that a man connected to a drug ring was receiving packages of drugs at Taylor’s apartment.

Taylor’s name became known nationally during the protests against police brutality and racism that erupted after the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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