One of three Kentucky police officers involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor this year was fired Tuesday, authorities said.
In a two-page letter to Louisville Police Department Detective Brett Hankison, Chief Robert J. Schroeder said the detective violated the department’s lethal rules, procedures, and standards of force when Taylor was killed.
When Hankison and two other plainclothes officers used a “do not hit” order to enter Taylor’s apartment on March 13, he “blindly and senselessly fired” 10 shots, Schroeder wrote.
“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,” he said.
Schroeder added that Hankison fired those bullets without knowing if that deadly force was aimed at someone who posed an immediate threat.
“According to my review, these are extreme violations of our policies,” he wrote. “I find his behavior a shock to consciousness.”
The other two officers who were with Hankison were placed on administrative leave.
The death of Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American emergency room technician, has received widespread criticism. It spawned memes, sparked protests across the country, and led to a local ban, the “Breonna Law,” on “do not touch” orders.
Taylor was shot to death around 12:40 am during a drug investigation focused on a “trap house” several miles away, her family said. Her address was on the arrest warrant because the apartment had allegedly been used to receive mail or store drugs for a man authorities were looking for named Jamarcus Glover, who was already in police custody when Taylor’s house was raided, according to The Courier. -Magazine in Louisville.
Authorities said officers called multiple times and announced their presence before entering Taylor’s apartment. A lawsuit filed by her family challenges this.
Police said officers were received “immediately” by gunfire when they entered the home. The lawsuit says Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, 27, believed her apartment was being mugged, so Walker called 911 and shot what she believed to be an intruder, hitting an officer in the leg.
Walker had a license for the firearm, and no drugs were found in the department during the raid, the lawsuit says.
Walker was charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer.
After Hankison’s termination letter was published last week, attorneys for Taylor’s family argued that the Kentucky attorney general, who was appointed as special counsel in the case, should file criminal charges against the officer.
“According to the department’s own assessment, he committed a senseless danger, senseless murder, and attempted senseless murder,” attorneys Benjamin Crump, Lonita Baker and Sam Aguiar said in a joint statement.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron had no immediate comment on Hankison’s firing. During a press conference last week, Cameron said he understood the “urgency” and “public outcry” surrounding the case, but said he would not provide a timetable for his office’s investigation.
“We are not going to hit bad in this case,” he said. “We are going to pursue the truth based on the law, whether that leads to convictions or exonerations.”
The Louisville Police Union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Janelle Griffith contributed