LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A Louisville police investigator had to tell a detective who fired shots into Breonna Taylor's apartment to leave the scene more than an hour later, he wrote in an internal report made public Wednesday.
Former Detective Brett Hankison, whom a grand jury indicted on wanton endangerment charges last month for shooting into an apartment near Taylor’s unit, was “walking in and out of the primary scene,” Sgt. Jason Vance of the Public Integrity Unit noted in a 12-page “summary of events” written in July.
Body camera footage from a SWAT officer shows Hankison walking into Taylor's apartment after the shooting and asking, “I just need to know if there are any guns visible.”
In his report, Vance said he and another officer asked Hankison to leave the scene around 2 a.m. Police shot and killed Taylor shortly before 1 a.m. on March 13 while they served a warrant as part of an undercover narcotics raid.
Hankison, who was fired in June, “deviated from standard LMPD practices” in officer shootings by leaving without his “peer support” escort, Vance wrote. The former detective also violated protocol by going unattended to the hospital and making contact with his unit’s command, as well as with then-Chief Steve Conrad.
Attorneys for Walker and Taylor’s family have questioned Hankison’s whereabouts after the shooting.
The new disclosures about Hankison’s actions at the shooting scene were released Wednesday as part of its investigation into the Taylor shooting, a move Mayor Greg Fischer said needed to happen “as quickly as possible” after a grand jury met last month.
In an unusual step, the police department posted most of the investigative file online for anyone to see. It contains photos, body camera footage, videotaped interviews and other documents connected to the raid.
LMPD redacted Taylor’s autopsy photos and other parts of the review done by its Public Integrity Unit, which investigates officer shootings and probes potential criminal violations by officers. Also withheld were “intelligence work-up reports" for Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who has said he fired a single shot as police burst into Taylor's apartment while serving a search warrant.
WDRB News and other media outlets have reported on many portions of the file obtained in recent months through leaks, court records or Fischer’s administration. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron used the investigation as part of his probe into the shooting.
Among the previously unreported documents is Vance’s report, which also reveals a contentious May 14 WebEx meeting about the shooting case in which Maj. Kim Burbrink took part.
The report says investigators made several requests, reaching as high as then-Deputy Chief Robert Schroeder, asking that Burbrink not attend because she was an “informational witness.” Those requests were denied because Burbrink was the commander of the unit that raided Taylor’s apartment.
During the meeting, the report says, Burbrink cast doubt on how the Public Integrity Unit collected evidence at the scene. And, Vance wrote, after investigators told Conrad that there were inconsistencies in Hankison’s account, Burbrink pressed for specific examples – even though investigators considered that “sensitive” information.
“It should be noted at no time did any other commander intervene to stop what has been characterized by multiple individuals present during the WebEx meeting as a ‘Cross examination’ of the investigation,” the report says.
Schroeder, who retired as interim police chief last week, later apologized for Burbrink’s actions, Vance wrote.
The report also cites messages on Walker’s cell phone, obtained through a warrant, that claim Walker was “clearly trafficking in marijuana and prescription medication” and “may have committed a robbery prior to March 13, 2020.”
“Investigators believe this information should be noted because it may have contributed to Walker’s actions on March 13, 2020,” it says.
Steve Romines, Walker’s attorney, called that allegation “pathetic and completely consistent with the coverup that began that night and continues up to today.”
In a statement, Romines said “it reflects the fact that over two months into the investigation of Breonna Taylor’s death, LMPD is more interested in including unsupported allegations to smear Kenny Walker than it is in actually finding the truth.”
Walker was initially charged with attempted murder, but Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine dropped the case in May.
Police were serving a warrant on Taylor’s apartment as part of a broader narcotics investigation that targeted Jamarcus Glover, a convicted felon whom she had previously dated.
WDRB News will be reviewing the complete investigative file in the coming days.
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