Officer Involved in Breonna Taylor Shooting Fired by Louisville Police Department

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
June 24, 2020Updated: June 24, 2020

The Louisville Metro police department on June 23 fired a police officer who was involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman who was killed in her home in March.

In a letter from the city’s police department shared on Twitter Tuesday, interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said that Louisville Metro Police Officer Brett Hankison violated procedures by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” fired 10 shots into Taylor’s apartment.

Schroeder also said that Hankison violated the rule against using deadly force. The letter states that his termination would be effective immediately.

Taylor, a Kentucky medical worker, was killed in her home on March 13 after law enforcement officers executed a “no-knock” drug warrant after midnight. No-knock warrants allow law enforcement officials enter a residence forcibly without having to announce their purpose or identifying themselves as police.

Hankison was one of three officers involved in her shooting.

Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend of Taylor, fired a handgun which he legally owned, believing the Louisville home he and Taylor shared was being broken into.

In the confrontation, a police officer was struck by a round. Police returned fire, hitting Taylor eight times, resulting in her death. No drugs were found in the home.

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A man holds up a placard showing fallen Breonna Taylor, as he addresses a rally in Boston, Mass., on June 9, 2020. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

Hankison’s firing comes after Mayor Greg Fischer announced Friday that Schroeder had started termination proceedings for Hankison while two other officers remain on administrative reassignment as the shooting is investigated.

“The ten 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 said in his letter, addressing Hankison’s violation of the rule against using deadly force.

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

“Your conduct demands your termination,” Schroeder wrote. “I have the utmost confidence in my decision to terminate your employment for the best interest for the Louisville Metro Police Department and our community.”

Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Taylor’s family, previously said the move to fire Hankison was long overdue. “It’s about damn time,” he said, adding Hankison was an officer who “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,” Aguiar added.

Protesters calling for justice in Taylor’s shooting have taken their calls to the streets amid the international protests after the May 25 death of George Floyd who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.

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Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at the US Capitol in Washington on Jan. 27, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Following Taylor’s death, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a bill to ban no-knock warrants. He said in a press release on June 11 that the bill is named in memory and honor of Taylor.

“After talking with Breonna Taylor’s family, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s long past time to get rid of no-knock warrants. This bill will effectively end no-knock raids in the United States,” said Sen. Paul.

The bill, called the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act (pdf), prohibits any state or local police agency nationwide from executing a warrant “that does not require the law enforcement officer serving the warrant to provide notice of his or her authority and purpose before forcibly entering a premises.”

Tom Ozimek and the Associated Press contributed to this report.