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Louisville police detective will be fired over Breonna Taylor shooting

Cop involved in Breonna Taylor shooting to be fired
Police officer involved in the shooting of Breonna Taylor will be fired 02:13

Editor's note: Detective Brett Hankison has been fired by the Louisville Police Department. Read the latest update here.

A Louisville police detective will be fired over the death of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by officers in her home March 13, the city's police chief said Friday. Taylor, who was studying to become a nurse, was shot eight times by officers conducting a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found at her home.

In a scathing letter to Detective Brett Hankison, Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said he plans to begin termination proceedings against the officer.  The chief said he made the decision after reviewing the results of the department's internal investigation.

"I find your conduct a shock to the conscience," Schroeder wrote. "I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion."

The letter said Hankison "wantonly and blindly fired 10 shots into the apartment of Breonna Taylor."

Hankison also violated the department's use of force policy by firing 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," the letter said. 

"In fact, the 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.

The police chief also accused Hankison of endangering the lives of Taylor's neighbors when three rounds traveled into their nearby apartment.

"Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the department," Schroeder wrote. 

Louisville Police Detective Brett Hankison WLKY

The letter, which noted Hankison was previously disciplined in 2019 for reckless conduct, says the officer will have an opportunity with union representatives or counsel to provide the chief with "additional information or mitigating factors."
The officers involved in the shooting — Hankison, Jon Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove — had previously been placed on administrative reassignment while the shooting is investigated. None have been charged, despite widespread calls for their arrest. Kentucky's attorney general pleaded for patience on Thursday as his office, appointed as special prosecutor in the case, weighs a charging decision.

Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was also in the home that night and fired at police. Walker was initially charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but that charge was dropped by prosecutors in May. Walker told police he didn't know who was coming into the home and that he thought he was acting in self-defense. Mattingly was shot in the thigh and recovered.

The release of Walker's 911 call on May 28 marked the beginning of days of protests in Louisville, which were fueled by Taylor's death and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The shooting also led city officials in Louisville to ban the use of controversial "no-knock" warrants, which allows them to enter without first announcing their presence. The "no-knock" warrant to search Taylor's home was in connection with a suspect who did not live there.  

The Louisville police department's public integrity unit is also investigating multiple sexual assault allegations against Hankison, reports the Courier Journal.

Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Taylor's family, said Hankison's firing is overdue.

"It's about damn time. It should have happened a long time ago, but thankfully it's at least happening now," Aguiar said. "This is an officer that's plagued our streets and made this city worse for over a dozen years. ... Let's hope that this is a start to some good, strong criminal proceedings against Officer Hankison, because he definitely deserves to at least be charged."

Louisville passes ban on no-knock warrants called "Breonna's Law" 02:26
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