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Louisville's Police Department Fires An Officer Involved In Breonna Taylor's Death

Protesters march with placards and a portrait of Breonna Taylor during a demonstration against racism and police brutality this month in Hollywood, Calif. The mayor of Louisville, Ky., has announced that an officer involved in her death will be fired. (Agustin Paullier /AFP via Getty Images)
Protesters march with placards and a portrait of Breonna Taylor during a demonstration against racism and police brutality this month in Hollywood, Calif. The mayor of Louisville, Ky., has announced that an officer involved in her death will be fired. (Agustin Paullier /AFP via Getty Images)

Kentucky's Louisville Metro Police Department is firing one of the police officers involved in the shooting death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, saying that Brett Hankison "displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life."

Mayor Greg Fischer announced Friday morning that the Louisville police chief has started termination procedures against Hankison.

Hankison is one of three officers who entered Taylor's apartment around 1 a.m. on March 13 to execute a no-knock warrant. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was also in the apartment, believed the officers to be intruders, his attorney has said. He's a licensed gun owner and fired his weapon, hitting an officer in the leg.

Officers shot back, hitting Taylor eight times, killing her.

Citing a Kentucky law, Fischer said he couldn't elaborate further on Hankison's firing. Nor did he mention the fate of the two other officers — Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove — who are on administrative leave.

Chief Rob Schroeder said in a pre-termination letter made public Friday said that Hankison "wantonly and blindly fired ten (10) rounds" into Taylor's apartment.

"I find your conduct a shock to the conscience," Schroeder wrote in the letter. He said Hankison has never been trained by the department "to use deadly force in this fashion."

Earlier this month, the Louisville Metro Council unanimously passed a law that bans "no-knock" warrants. It was named Breonna's Law.

Though Taylor died in March, her death became a rallying point in protests that continue around the country, which were sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Louisville has seen 22 straight nights of protests calling for justice for Taylor and Floyd, as WFPL reported. In the early morning hours ahead of Friday's announcement, police and protesters clashed, and the NPR member station reported that 56 people were arrested.

Earlier this month, David McAtee, a Black man, was shot by the Kentucky National Guard as it was working with police to converge on a crowd gathered after curfew.

On Friday, activists and organizers praised Hankison's termination but still raised questions about his fellow officers.

"This is not only justice for Breonna's family, this is justice for the [protesters] who are also victims of police terrorism. While we are still perplexed why the other officers haven't been fired we know that is still coming," Chanelle Helm, a lead organizer with Black Lives Matter Louisville, said in a statement.

Hankison is allowed to appeal his termination, as WFPL reported.

Kentucky's attorney general has an ongoing investigation but hasn't indicated when he will make a decision about possible charges.

It also comes as sexual misconduct allegations against Hankison emerge.

Two women have publicly accused Hankison of sexual assault through social media posts, as WFPL has reported. The Louisville Courier-Journal added that at least two sexual misconduct complaints were filed against Hankison while he served in law enforcement.

Copyright NPR 2020.

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