LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Mayor Greg Fischer announced Friday that Louisville Metro Police is initiating termination of officer Brett Hankison, one of three officers to fire weapons at Breonna Taylor's apartment, which resulted in her death.
Taylor, 26, was shot by officers at her apartment on March 13 as they entered to serve a no-knock warrant. Her boyfriend thought officers were intruders and fired a shot as they entered. Taylor was shot eight times in the ensuing gunfire from officers.
Hankison is accused by the department's interim chief, Robert Schroeder, of "blindly" firing 10 rounds into Taylor's apartment, creating a substantial danger of death and serious injury.
"I find your conduct a shock to the conscience," Schroeder wrote in a Friday letter to Hankison laying out the charges against him. "I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion."
"The result of your action seriously impedes the Department's goal of providing the citizens of our city with the most professional law enforcement agency possible. I cannot tolerate this type of conduct by any member of the Louisville Metro Police Department," he added. "Your conduct demands your termination."
Specifically, Hankison is accused of violating departmental policies on adherence to rules and regulations and use of deadly force. Schroeder, who wrote that he received the department's Public Integrity Unit investigation into the case on Tuesday evening, notes Hankison was previously disciplined for reckless conduct in early 2019.
The pretermination letter Schroeder sent Friday will be followed up with a pretermination hearing, expected to take place in the next week, where Hankison and his legal representation, attorney David Leightty, will respond to the allegations.
Schroeder will then issue a final decision, which Hankison can appeal to the Police Merit Board within 10 days. That board will consider if the chief's decision was justified. If it determines it was not justified, it can levy its own punishment.
The other two officers who fired their weapons at Taylor's apartment — Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove — have been placed on administrative reassignment.
Fischer, in a Friday news conference announcing the move, declined further comment.
"Unfortunately, due to a provision in state law that I would very much like to see changed, both the chief and I are precluded from talking about what brought us to this moment or even the timing of this decision," Fischer said.
According to state law, "no public statements shall be made concerning the alleged violation" by local government officials "until final disposition of the charges."
Hankison in recent weeks also has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women in viral social media posts. The allegations are similar, saying that he offered intoxicated women a ride home from bars before sexually assaulting them.
Attorneys representing Hankison in a civil lawsuit and the LMPD investigation looking into his conduct did not immediately respond to Courier Journal requests for comment on Friday.
Ryan Nichols, the president of the River City Fraternal Order of Police chapter representing Louisville Metro Police officers, declined to comment at this time.
Sam Aguiar, a Louisville-based attorney for Taylor's family, said Friday about Hankison's firing: "It's about damn time."
"Maybe, finally, the mayor realized that sometimes you just need to do what the best thing is for the city, and since day one, the best thing to do for the city (has been) to take this dirty cop off the payroll and off the streets," Aguiar said.
In Schroeder's letter, he writes that Hankison blindly fired shots without "supporting facts" that the deadly force was directed at someone who posed an immediate threat.
"In fact, the ten (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," he adds.
Some of the bullets, Schroeder writes, traveled into Taylor's neighbor's apartment, "endangering" three people.
In a court filing last week, Aguiar alleged that Hankison "could not be located" after the shooting took place.
Aguiar said that "following the initial flurry of gunshots, witnesses state that an officer (presumably Hankison) yelled 'reload' and then proceeded to fire more into Breonna’s home."
Photos of Taylor's apartment provided by Aguiar show the sliding glass patio door boarded up from the outside. But inside, shards of glass can be seen on the apartment's carpeted floor, and bullet holes riddle the curtains.
Taylor, 26, was shot at least eight times and died in her hallway after officers returned gunfire from Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Walker has said he fired one shot as police entered, hitting Mattingly in the leg, because he thought they were intruders.
Police were at Taylor's apartment on a no-knock warrant signed by Circuit Judge Mary Shaw in connection with a narcotics investigation. Department officials have said officers knocked and announced their presence, but attorneys and neighbors disagree.
A fourth officer, Joshua Jaynes, who sought the no-knock warrant, has also been reassigned pending investigation.
The three officers who fired their weapons were under internal investigation by Louisville Metro Police's Public Integrity Unit. That investigation has been shared with the FBI and state attorney general, who are expected to conduct additional investigations.
Neither the FBI nor the Kentucky attorney general have announced any criminal charges.
Louisville FBI officials were at Taylor's apartment on Friday morning executing a search warrant as part of their independent investigation and taking a "fresh look" at the evidence.
Spokesman Tim Beam said the FBI will investigate "all aspects" of Taylor's death, including interviewing witnesses who have and haven't already spoken to Louisville Metro Police. Officials will also examine all physical evidence and video evidence to better understand what transpired, he said.
The FBI's Civil Rights Division, based in Washington, D.C., is working with the Louisville Field Office on the case.
The division can bring charges under civil rights statutes, including deprivation of rights, which makes it a crime for anyone acting on behalf of the law to deprive someone of constitutional rights.
If convicted, the individual could face life in prison or a death sentence.
Aguiar said Friday, "if this wasn't wanton (endangerment) and attempted murder, then I don't know what the hell would be.
"We expect and demand these charges," he said.
For months, protesters have been calling for the three officers to be fired and charged in Taylor's death. The protests intensified last month after death of George Floyd, a handcuffed Black man who died after a white officer pinned his neck to the ground with his knee in Minneapolis.
Last week, Louisville banned no-knock search warrants with an ordinance called Breonna's Law. No-knock warrants do not mean that police don't announce their presence, but rather that they identify themselves as police only after gaining entrance.
Contributing: Tessa Duvall. Darcy Costello: 502-582-4834; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dctello. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com.
More on the Breonna Taylor shooting
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Breonna Taylor shooting: Louisville police fire officer Brett Hankison