Breonna Taylor: Louisville officer to be fired for deadly force use

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Image shows Breonna TaylorImage source, Facebook
Image caption,
Breonna Taylor, 26, was a decorated emergency medical technician

A policeman involved in the killing of an African-American woman in the US state of Kentucky will be fired, Louisville city officials have said.

Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot when officers entered her flat on 13 March during a drugs investigation.

Mayor Greg Fischer said Brett Hankison, one of three officers involved, would lose his badge. The others have been placed on administrative leave.

Ms Taylor's name has become a rallying cry at global anti-racism protests.

Mayor Fischer did not provide more details regarding the decision to fire Mr Hankison.

"Unfortunately, due to a provision in state law that I very much would 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," he said.

Image source, Police handout
Image caption,
Brett Hankison will be fired, officials say

Police suspected Ms Taylor's flat was being used to receive drugs by a gang based at a different address 10 miles (16km) away. One of the suspects was an ex-boyfriend of Ms Taylor.

She was one of three people named on the warrant, according to Louisville NBC affiliate Wave 3.

But Ms Taylor was not the main subject of the investigation, the city's Courier-Journal newspaper reports.

In a letter to Mr Hankison published by the Courier-Journal, Louisville Police interim chief Robert Schroeder wrote that his conduct was "a shock to the conscience" that "demands your termination".

Mr Hankison is accused of "blindly" firing 10 rounds into Ms Taylor's apartment, displaying "an extreme indifference to the value of human life".

"I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion," Mr Schroeder added.

"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."

Attorneys for Ms Taylor's family said they want to see the other officers fired as well.

"We also look forward to these officers being prosecuted for their roles in her untimely death."

What happened to Breonna Taylor?

Shortly after midnight on 13 March, Mr Hankison, along with officers Jon Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, entered Ms Taylor's apartment by executing a no-knock search warrant - a court document that authorises police to enter a home without permission. Ms Taylor and her partner, Kenneth Walker, were reportedly asleep as the commotion began.

Police said they knocked before using a battering ram to enter the home, though this account has been disputed by Ms Taylor's family and a neighbour.

The officers exchanged fire with Mr Walker, a licensed gun owner who called 911 in the belief that the drug raid was a burglary. The officers - who fired more than 25 bullets - said they returned fire after one officer was shot and wounded.

During the exchange, Ms Taylor, an emergency medical technician, was shot eight times. She died on her hallway floor.

Mr Walker surrendered and was arrested on charges of attempted murder of a police officer.

A lawsuit filed by Ms Taylor's family accuses the officers of battery, wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence.

No drugs were found in the property. The lawsuit also says the officers were not looking for her or her partner, but for an unrelated suspect who did not live in the complex.

Last week, Louisville's city council voted unanimously in favour of banning no-knock warrants. Similar legislation that would ban the warrants nationwide was introduced in the US Congress.

On Sunday, pop star Beyoncé urged the Kentucky Attorney General to bring charges against the three officers involved.

Ms Taylor's killing was propelled into the spotlight again with the death of unarmed African-American man George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last month.