Louisville police officer fired over fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor

By Bryan Woolston

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) – One of three officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed in a hail of gunfire when drug investigators burst into her home in Louisville, Kentucky, three months ago was dismissed from the police department on Tuesday.

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.

In a termination notice issued after an administrative hearing, Louisville police chief Robert Schroeder wrote that detective Brett Hankison “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired” 10 rounds into Taylor’s home.

Schroeder said the gunshots were fired through a patio door and window covered with material obscuring Hankison’s line of sight, preventing him from knowing whether anyone was inside the apartment, let alone whether they posed a threat. Some of the rounds he fired flew into the unit next door, the chief wrote.

Two other officers involved in the raid remain on administrative reassignment. No criminal charges have been filed against any of the three.

The notice also said Hankison, who joined the department in 2003, was disciplined in 2019 for reckless conduct that injured an innocent person.

Taylor’s slaying, which returned to prominence following the May 25 death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, has become a rallying cry in nationwide protests against police brutality and racial bias in the U.S. criminal justice system.

In the immediate aftermath of the Taylor killing, police said 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 prosecutors later dropped the charges, the Courier-Journal reported.

(Reporting by Bryan Woolston in Louisville, Ky.; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Leslie Adler)

Man shot in New Mexico protest over conquistador sculpture

(Reuters) – A man was shot and wounded on Monday during a protest near a museum in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, police said, where demonstrators were reported to be trying to tear down a sculpture of a 16th-century Spanish conquistador.

“The victim is reported to be in critical but stable condition,” the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) said in a tweet, adding that the incident had ended.

The Albuquerque Journal newspaper reported that the shooting erupted during a clash between protesters trying to pull down a statue of Juan de Onate and several heavily armed members of a civilian militia group called the New Mexico Civil Guard.

Police chief of Albuquerque, Michael Geier, said in a statement that police were receiving reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating the violence.

The confrontation occurred outside the Albuquerque Museum in the heart of the city’s Old Town district.

According to the Journal’s account, one man involved in a physical altercation with the protesters appeared to draw a gun and fire five shots after he was pushed onto the street, sending members of the crowd scurrying for cover as one person yelled, “Somebody got shot.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is currently assisting APD violent crime investigators as they interview individuals who were involved in the shooting, the tweet said.

“Police used chemical irritants and flash bangs to protect officers and detain individuals involved in the shooting. The individuals were disarmed and taken into custody for questioning.”

Video footage posted to social media from the scene appeared to show one man lying on the ground as several other people tried to render assistance. A separate clip showed three men lying face down and spread eagle on the pavement as police in riot gear stood over them, apparently making arrests. Another officer appeared to be on the ground as well.

Anti-racism protesters venting anger over last month’s death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, have taken to destroying statutes honoring the U.S. Civil War’s Confederacy, as well as sculptures of imperialists, conquistadors and other historical figures associated with the subjugation of indigenous populations around the world.

The statue at the center of Monday’s protest in Albuquerque is part of a controversial sculpture called “La Jornada,” which depicts Onate, known for the 1599 massacre of a pueblo tribe, leading a group of Spanish settlers into what is now New Mexico.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additonal reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael Perry)