LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The attorney for Brett Hankison, one of the former officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, said in an appeal letter last week that the termination of his client was unfairly premature.
Hankison is one of three officers involved in the shooting death of Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT who was shot eight times by police when they broke down the door to her Louisville apartment while executing a warrant in a narcotics investigation.
Taylor’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
Former officer fired
The former officer was terminated by the department on June 23. In a letter informing Hankison of his firing, Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder told him, “I find your conduct a shock to the conscience.”
“I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion,” Schroeder added.
Hankison violated standard operating procedure when his “actions displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired ten (10) rounds” into Taylor’s apartment, Schroeder wrote in the letter.
Some of the rounds Hankison fired went into an apartment next door, “endangering the three lives in that apartment,” Schroeder wrote.
One day later, attorney David Leightty, who is representing Hankison, wrote an appeal letter to the Louisville Metro Police Department stating that his client shouldn’t be punished until the facts of the case are in, noting that investigations by the Kentucky Attorney General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Kentucky State Police were incomplete.
“Brett Hankison should not be punished unless the facts show he committed wrongdoing, and the facts are not yet in,” the letter said.
Leightly also disputed the allegation made by Schroeder that Hankison “blindly” shot his service weapon during the incident.
Hankison “did not lack cognizance of the direction in which he fired, but acted in quick response to gunfire directed at himself and other officers,” Leightty wrote.
Appeal filed with merit board
An appeal has also been filed for Hankison to get his job back, according to Mark Dobbins, an attorney for the merit board which handles the appeals process.
Dobbins told CNN in a statement that a date for the appeal has not yet been set.
“By Kentucky law, any police officer who is a part of a merit system police department that has been terminated, suspended or demoted and then files an appeal for that disciplinary action is entitled to an appeal,” Dobbins said. Dobbins is neutral to the appeals process, and ensures the process is conducted fairly.
The termination process for firing Hankison was initiated by Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher on June 19, the mayor said in a statement. Although the mayor didn’t give many details in the statement, he did say that a provision in state law precluded him and the chief from talking about their reasons for firing Hankison.
Elizabeth Kuhn, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Attorney General’s office. told CNN her office had no comment on the termination of Hankison.
Family and community seek justice for Taylor’s death
Protests in Louisville reached a boiling point Saturday when one person was shot and killed in Jefferson Park during a demonstration demanding justice in Taylor’s death. As a result of the shooting, LMPD announced in a statement Sunday that the park would be closed from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily.
Taylor’s death has been the focus of national attention as protesters have called for justice in police-involved killings of Black men and women across the country in recent months.
The officers who killed the EMT were carrying out a search warrant at the home in a narcotics investigation when they entered without knocking around 1 a.m. on March 13.
Taylor’s house was included in a no-knock warrant because authorities suspected a man involved in a drug ring was having packages of drugs delivered to her home, according to a police affidavit for the raid’s search warrant.
When officers entered they encountered Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker. He called 911 when the police came into the apartment. He was licensed to carry a firearm, according to the lawsuit. Police say he fired at the officers who executed the warrant.
Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit two months later claiming charges of battery, wrongful death, excessive force, negligence and gross negligence.
The suit also noted that officers should have called off their search of Taylor’s apartment because a suspect police were looking for had been arrested at another location before the warrant had been executed.
Taylor’s family has also denied that she had any involvement with drugs.