KY Cop Suffers Career Setback After Killing Breonna Taylor In Her Own Home
It turns out you can't just bust into a woman's house while she's sleeping and shoot her dead — no, not even if she's Black and you're a cop. Dare we say it? Black lives matter.
Let's not get too carried away, though. Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer just announced Friday that one of the officers who shot Breonna Taylor will have to settle for killing Black women in the private sector. According to his termination letter, Metro Police Officer Brett Hankison “violated procedure" when he fired 10 rounds into Taylor's apartment while executing a BS “no-knock warrant."
"I have determined you violated Standard Operating Procedure ... when your actions displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life when you wantonly and blindly fired ten rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor," the letter stated.
Louisville Police Chief Rob Schroeder also claims that Hankison “violated procedure" — or if you're not a cop, “murdered someone" — when he “used deadly force without knowing the force was directed at a person who posed an immediate threat." The door and window that Hankison shot through were covered (as folks do when they're sleeping), so he had no idea what he was shooting. He could've killed a child, which some cops have already done during their no-knock “surprise visits."
There's been uncertainty about what exactly happened the night Taylor was killed, because it involves believing anything the cops tell you. The police arrested Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, at the scene of her murder. Walker thought someone was breaking into the house so he fired his licensed gun, shooting Officer Jon Mattingly in the leg. (This is why I agree with the Doctor that guns “make everything worse.")
Walker was charged with attempted murder when he was stupid (I hate guns, remember?) and scared (the police weren't even in uniform). He tried to shoot at the ground, because he values human life. He's obviously not law enforcement material.
"I don't need to kill anybody if I can just get you out of here," he said.
It seems only fair, though, that Schroeder and his crew should receive the same charge as Walker, considering they initiated the encounter in the first place and weren't half asleep in their own home. Walker was released from jail weeks after Taylor's death. The police union protested because he was obviously a threat to fellow peace officers who might break into his house again.
"Not only is [Walker] a threat to the men and women of law enforcement, but he also poses a significant danger to the community we protect!" River City FOP president Ryan Nichols wrote in a Facebook Post Friday. "Home incarceration was not designed for the most violent offenders!" "I call on the public to condemn the actions of Judge Olu Stevens."
The attempted murder charges were eventually dropped against Walker, thanks to public pressure.
Mayor Fisher wasn't able to go into much further detail about trigger-happy Hankison's pink slip.
"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," Fischer said in a statement.
It's like we live in some dystopian reality where cops wrote all the laws. The Louisville City Council voted unanimously last week to ban “no-knock" warrants. I'm glad someone mailed the city a cop of the Constitution, but Breonna Taylor was still mowed down in her own home, just a few months before her 27th birthday. She deserved better, and Hankison deserves worse than joining 20 million other Americans in the unemployment line. Taylor's death wasn't a workplace accident. It was murder.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."