On Tuesday, the Louisville Metro Police Department fired one of the three officers involved in the tragic killing of Breonna Taylor. Brett Hankison’s termination from the Louisville police force is the first real action taken in the high-profile case of the late EMT worker and aspiring nurse.

In a letter to Hankison dated June 23, and signed by Police Chief Robert J. Schroeder, LMPD said they were taking action against the detective based on his review of the investigation conducted by the department’s Public Integrity Unit. Schroeder says he found Hankison in violation of two standard operating procedures which includes the use of deadly force. He also noted that Hankison displayed “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired ten (10) rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor.”

The letter also corroborates the account Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker gave of the events. It notes that Hankison shot into a patio door and window which obscured the identities of the people involved as well as any evidence that would suggest they posed a threat. Rounds from the former detective’s firearm were also found in the home of Taylor’s neighbor which means his actions also endangered the life of three people residing in the apartment next door.

In addition to laying out the reasons why Schroeder acted inappropriately on the night Breonna Taylor was killed, the letter reveals that Hankison has a disciplinary record stemming from a previous incident where his reckless conduct led to an innocent person being injured. “Based upon my review, these are extreme violations of our policies,” Schroeder writes. “I find your conduct a shock to the conscience.”

Prior to Tuesday, Hankison and the other two officers involved in Taylor’s death remained on the force, causing protests throughout the city of Louisville and the country. On March 13, 2020, the members of the Louisville Metro Police Department shot 20 rounds into the home of Breonna Taylor who was reportedly asleep along with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. Eight of those rounds struck Taylor. Officers claim they showed up at the house hoping to apprehend a man who was already in custody. They claim he was using Taylor’s address to receive illegal packages.

former Louisville detective Brett Hankison, one of three officers involved in shooting death of Breonna Taylor
In addition to having an alleged history of sexual assault, former detective Brett Hankison also has a record of police misconduct stemming from a previous incident that required disciplinary action in January 2019. (Photo: Louisville Metro Police Department)

Officers were granted a no-knock warrant— now banned following Taylor’s death— allowing them to enter Taylor’s residence on the March evening without warning or identifying themselves. Walker has maintained that he was caught off guard by the officer’s appearance. He began shooting because he believed an intruder was trying to make their way into the home. Walker was originally charged with first-degree assault and attempted murder of a police officer. 

No word yet on if Hankison will be charged, or if the other officers involved in Taylor’s death will be fired and charged. Hankison has 10 days to appeal Schroeder’s decision in writing. If he does, there will be a scheduled public hearing to review the disciplinary action suggested.          

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