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Louisville Police Department formally terminates officer involved in Breonna Taylor death

Louisville Police Department formally terminates officer involved in Breonna Taylor death
© NBC News

The Louisville Police Department on Tuesday fired an officer over his role in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who died after city police fired several shots in her apartment.

Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said in a letter shared on Twitter that Brett Hankison's termination would be effective immediately. He said that the dismissal stemmed from a review into the March 13 incident in which Taylor died. 

The move follows Mayor Greg Fischer's (D) announcement last week that the department was moving forward with "termination procedures" for Hankison.

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Taylor was killed in her Louisville apartment on March 13 after Hankison and two other plainclothes police officers forcefully entered with a no-knock warrant while Taylor was asleep.

Schroeder said an investigation found Hankison violated police procedures on standard use of force by blindly firing 10 shots in Taylor's apartment without "supporting facts that your deadly force" was being used against someone who posed an immediate threat. 

Some of the shots Hankison fired also traveled into the apartment next to Taylor's, endangering the lives of three people who lived there, Schroeder added. 

"These are extreme violations of our policies," Schroeder said in his letter to Hankison. "I find your conduct a shock to the conscience. I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion." 

Taylor's death sparked outrage in the Louisville community and led to weeks of protests calling for accountability for the officers involved. The name of the 26-year-old certified EMT also became a rallying cry as demonstrations swept the nation following the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. 

Earlier this month, Fischer signed “Breonna’s Law,” a measure barring the practice of no-knock warrants, which allow officers to enter a home without identifying themselves. 

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Taylor was allegedly shot and killed by officers who were executing a drug warrant as a part of a narcotics investigation. Police had obtained a warrant with a no-knock provision, according to court records obtained by the Louisville Courier Journal. Officials have said they knocked and voiced their presence before entering the apartment by using a battering ram, but that is disputed by the Taylor family's attorney and Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.

Walker was in the apartment at the time and claims he shot at officers after they entered without knocking or announcing who they were. Hankison and two other officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, are accused of returning more than 20 shots in response. Eight of the shots struck Taylor. 

A lawsuit filed by Taylor's family in April accused the officers of wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence. Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Taylor's family, told the Courier Journal that Tuesday's firing was a "good, small step" but noted that "we won't be satisfied until rightful charges are brought against him, until charges are brought against everyone responsible for Breonna's death."

Mattingly and Cosgrove are currently on administrative leave. No criminal charges have been filed against any of the officers involved. 

Hankison was previously disciplined for reckless conduct in January 2019 after injuring an innocent person, Schroeder said. The police chief noted that the officer has 10 days to file a written response to his termination. 

UPDATED 8:40 p.m.