LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville’s mayor said Friday that one of three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor will be fired.
Mayor Greg Fischer said interim Louisville police Chief Robert Schroeder has started termination proceedings for Officer Brett Hankison. Two other officers remain on administrative reassignment while the shooting is investigated.
Fischer said officials could not answer questions about the firing because of state law. He referred all questions to the Jefferson County attorney’s office.
Meanwhile, FBI agents went to Taylor’s apartment Friday as part of their independent investigation into her death, FBI officials in Louisville said in a statement.
“When investigating potential civil rights violations, the FBI will take a fresh look at all the evidence, including interviewing witnesses who have already spoken to the original investigating agency, interviewing witnesses who have not yet spoken to law enforcement and examining all physical and video evidence to better understand what transpired,” the FBI statement said. “Today’s action is part of this process.”
Taylor, who was Black, was shot eight times by officers who burst into her Louisville home using a no-knock warrant during a March 13 narcotics investigation. No drugs were found at her home.
A letter the chief sent to Hankison said the white officer violated standard operating procedures when he “wantonly and blindly fired 10 rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor.”
The letter says he fired the rounds “without supporting facts” that the deadly force was directed at a person posing an immediate threat.
“In fact, the 10 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,” the letter states.
“I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” Schroeder said in the letter. “Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the Department.”
Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Taylor’s family said the move was overdue.
“It’s about damn time. It should have happened a long time ago, but thankfully it’s at least happening now,” Aguiar said. “This is an officer that’s 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.”
The warrant to search Taylor’s home was in connection with a suspect who did not live there. Police used a no-knock search warrant, which allows them to enter without first announcing their presence. Louisville’s Metro Council recently voted to ban the use of no-knock warrants.
The release in late May of a 911 call by Taylor’s boyfriend marked the beginning of days of protests in Louisville, fueled by Taylor’s death and the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
“This really confirms why the family has been calling for justice for Breonna Taylor. It’s undisputable evidence,” said Christopher 2X, an anti-violence activist in Louisville.
Black Lives Matter Louisville organizer Chanelle Helm said the move brings some justice to Taylor’s family and to protesters.
“While we are still perplexed why the other officers haven’t been fired, we know that is still coming. We want to thank the community for coming together in support of the Louisville protesters in spite of the violence we have experienced from the police while fighting for justice,” Helm said in a statement.
Beyonce recently joined the call for charges against the officers involved in Taylor’s shooting. The superstar said in a letter to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron that the three Louisville police officers “must be held accountable for their actions.”
The recent unrest in Louisville resulted in the firing of the city’s police chief and the shooting death of David McAtee, who owned a popular barbecue shack, while officers and National Guard soldiers were trying to clear a crowd from a parking lot to enforce a curfew. Police Chief Steve Conrad was fired after it was revealed that officers failed to activate body cameras during the encounter with McAtee.
Story by Rebecca Reynolds Yonker and Bruce Schreiner