The firing comes after weeks of protests in Kentucky’s largest city over the deaths of Taylor and George Floyd in Minneapolis.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CN) — One of the three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor after the execution of a no-knock warrant has been fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the decision to fire Officer Brett Hankison in an abrupt, one-minute press conference and cited state law for the brevity of his comments.
“Unfortunately,” Fischer said, “due to a provision in state law that I very much would like to see changed, both [Chief Rob Schroeder] and I are precluded from talking about what brought us to this moment, or even the timing of the decision.”
Hankison is alleged to have fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment shortly after midnight on March 13 when he and two other officers executed a no-knock warrant and burst into the 26-year-old black woman’s residence.
Neither of the other two officers have been fired, and it is unclear whether any of the three will face criminal charges.
The FBI has also begun an independent investigation into the shooting, and searched Taylor’s apartment Friday morning.
According to reports, the officers were investigating two drug dealers whom they believed used the apartment to receive packages.
The police opened fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot at them when they burst into the apartment.
Walker was initially charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but the charge was eventually dropped.
Hankison and the other officers claimed they announced their presence before breaking down the door, but their version of events was disputed by Walker, who claimed he shot in self-defense.
None of the officers had activated their bodycams before they executed the warrant.
Chief Schroeder reproached Hankison in a letter made available to the public, and said the officer’s conduct represented “extreme violations of our policies.”
“I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” Schroeder continued. “I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion. You have never been trained by the Louisville Metro Police Department to use deadly force in this fashion. Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the department.”
Schroeder suspended the issue of all no-knock warrants at the end of May, and the Louisville City Council passed Breonna’s Law on June 11, which banned them permanently in the city.
Policy strategist Keturah Herron of the ACLU of Kentucky said in a statement that no-knock warrants “put innocent people at grave risk, including law enforcement officers.”
“This ordinance is an important step, but it’s only the first step in a series of desperately needed changes to address police abuse of power and excessive force against black people,” Herron said.
Louisville has seen 22 consecutive days of protests in the wake of the Taylor story making news, which has coincided with Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota.
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, lamented the loss of her daughter’s life and told the Louisville Courier-Journal she was on the verge of starting her career in the healthcare industry.
“She had a whole plan of becoming a nurse and buying a house and then starting a family,” Palmer said last month. “Breonna had her head on straight, and she was a very decent person. She didn’t deserve this. She wasn’t that type of person.”
When told about the termination of Hankison on Friday, Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Taylor’s family, said: “It’s about damn time.”
The announcement of Hankison’s firing coincided with Juneteenth, the day on which black Americans celebrate their ancestors’ liberation from slavery.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, signed a proclamation Friday that declared June 19 to be Juneteenth National Freedom Day in the state, and also asked the legislature to declare it a state holiday.