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White Officer Involved In Breonna Taylor’s Shooting Death Has Been Fired

Activists continue to call for the officers involved in the 26-year-old EMT’s death to be charged.

A file photo, date not known, provided by the Louisville Metro police department shows officer Brett Hankison / Breonna Taylor | AP Images / Courtesy of Benjamin Crump
A file photo, date not known, provided by the Louisville Metro police department shows officer Brett Hankison / Breonna Taylor | AP Images / Courtesy of Benjamin Crump

One of the three Louisville cops involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old licensed EMT who was shot and killed in her own home, has been fired. Taylor’s killing has been a subject of many protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

Police Chief Robert Schroeder sent a letter of termination to officer Brett Hankison, which the department shared Tuesday on Twitter. In the letter, Schroeder said the ex-officer violated policy on use of deadly force when he “wantonly and blindly” fired 10 shots in Taylor’s apartment in Kentucky on March 13.

After Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot at the officers entering the home, police fired several rounds of shots, killing Taylor. Walker thought someone was breaking into Taylor’s home while they were sleeping, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family.

None of the officers involved in Taylor’s death have faced criminal charges. The two other officers, Jon Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, have reportedly been placed on administrative reassignment. Joshua Jaynes, the officer who applied for the no-knock warrant for Taylor's apartment, has also reportedly been reassigned. Hankison has 10 days to appeal his termination.

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The contents of Schroeder’s letter echo those of an earlier letter the department posted on Friday and said it served Hankison.

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

An attorney for Taylor's family, Sam Aguiar, called Hankison’s firing “another good, small step,” the Courier Journal reported.

“We won't be satisfied until rightful charges are brought against him, until charges are brought against everyone responsible for Breonna's death,” Aguiar said.

In March, the LMPD claimed that the three plainclothes officers, none of whom were wearing body cameras, announced themselves despite having a “no-knock” warrant before entering Taylor’s home. According to a warrant for the raid obtained by local news outlet WAVE, officers entered on suspicion that a man involved in a drug ring was receiving packages of drugs at Taylor’s home.

After entering, Hankison fired 10 times, hitting a patio door and window, which he couldn’t have confirmed did not have a person on the other side, according to Schroeder’s letters. Some of Hankison’s shots also went into the neighboring apartment and endangered the lives of three additional people, the letters said.  

The wrongful death lawsuit alleges the officers “entered Breonna’s home without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers.”  It continues: the officers proceeded to “spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life,” and shot Taylor at least eight times. The suit also says neither Taylor nor Walker, who is a licensed gun owner, have any criminal history of drugs or violence.

Earlier this month, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer last week signed into effect “Breonna’s Law,” which bans no-knock warrants in the city. Democratic lawmakers' sweeping police reform bill introduced is also designed to stop the use of such warrants in drug cases, CNBC reported.

The FBI’s Louisville Office announced on May 21 that it was opening an investigation into Taylor’s death — the same day Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad announced his retirement (Conrad was fired before his retirement went into effect at the end of June over the death of Black business owner David McAtee, who police shot and killed in his own restaurant).

People renewed calls on Wednesday for the officers involved in Taylor’s death to face charges.