June 19, 2020 / 4:58 PM / 2 months ago

Louisville police chief takes step to fire officer in Breonna Taylor shooting

(Reuters) - The police chief in Louisville, Kentucky said on Friday he intended to fire one of three officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed in a burst of gunfire when drug investigators mistakenly entered her home.

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was killed on March 13 after the officers entered her apartment bearing a “no-knock” arrest warrant that targeted the wrong house.

In a letter to Detective Brett Hankison posted on Twitter, Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Robert Schroeder said he intended to fire the officer for what he called “extreme” violations of standard operating procedures when Hankison used deadly force upon entering the apartment.

“Your actions displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life when you wantonly and blindly fired ten (10) rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor,” Schroeder wrote. “I find your conduct a shock to the conscience.”

The River City Fraternal Order of Police, which represents LMPD officers, did not reply to a request for comment.

Hankison, who was hired by the department in 2003, had previously been disciplined in January 2019 for reckless conduct that injured an innocent person, Schroeder’s letter said.

It said Hankison would have the opportunity, with counsel or a union representative, to provide “additional information or mitigating factors” before his termination was finalized.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family, called the police chief’s letter “damning,” and said on Twitter that he wanted to see the other officers fired and criminally charged.

Slideshow (5 Images)

Taylor’s death, along with the May 25 death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd and other police killings of Black people, has become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement and has sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.

Hours after the March 13 raid, Louisville police Lieutenant Ted Eiden told reporters the officers had knocked on the door before forcing entry and were shot at by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. One officer was struck in the leg and all three returned fire, hitting Taylor at least eight times, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Walker was charged with attempted murder and assault, but last month state prosecutors dropped the charges, the Courier-Journal reported.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Frances Kerry and Daniel Wallis

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