Breonna Taylor killing: Police officer Brett Hankison to be fired, says Louisville mayor

Police chief tells Brett Hankison: 'I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion'

Alex Woodward
New York
Friday 19 June 2020 13:51 BST
ESPN cuts off Jalen Rose as he calls for arrest of Breonna Taylor cops
ESPN cuts off Jalen Rose as he calls for arrest of Breonna Taylor cops (AFP / Jason Connolly )

One of three police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky on 13 March will be fired, the city's mayor announced on Friday.

Louisville Metro Police Department's interim chief Robert Schroeder will remove Brett Hankison from the force, Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement.

Mr Hankison is one of three officers who have been assigned to administrative duty after firing their weapons at Ms Taylor, a 26-year-old health worker, after they raided her apartment on a no-knock warrant. She was shot eight times as she lay in bed.

Ms Taylor's family and thousands of demonstrators across the US have demanded that the officers be fired and prosecuted for her murder.

Mayor Fischer said: "Unfortunately, due to a provision in state law that I very much would like to see changed, both the chief and I are precluded from talking about what brought us to this moment, or even the timing of this decision."

But according to a letter from Chief Schroeder, Mr Hankison is accused of "blindly" firing 10 rounds in Ms Taylor's apartment.

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

The chief said that "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," he said "Your conduct demands your termination."

The officer has also been accused of sexual assault in several viral social media posts, and the department said it would investigate the allegations.

He joined the force in 2003 and the department's narcotics unit in 2016.

On 13 March, Mr Hankison and two other officers — Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove — used a battering ram to enter Ms Taylor's apartment after midnight relying on a no-knock warrant based on an investigation in which police believed drugs were being sold from the property.

That warrant allowed police to enter the apartment without announcing themselves. Ms Taylor's family and attorneys have disputed police claims that they had knocked before breaking down the apartment's front door. There is no body-mounted camera footage from that night.

Police said Ms Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who was in bed with Ms Taylor when police entered the home, fired at the officers, and the officers returned fire by shooting 20 rounds.

911 call logs revealed that Mr Walker, who has a concealed carry permit and licence to own a firearm, told the operator that "somebody kicked the door down and shot my girlfriend."

Attorneys also argued that police had already found the suspect in their investigation before they broke into the apartment, yet "proceeded to spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life," according to a a wrongful death suit filed by Ms Taylor's mother.

Mr Walker was initially charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer, but the charges were later dismissed.

Under waves of criticism and calls for justice in the wake of Ms Taylor's killing as well as the killings of George Floyd and other black Americans during Black Lives Matter protests around the world, Louisville police chief Steve Conrad announced he was retiring from the department.

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