Kim Burbrink (Professional LMPD headshot)

LMPD Major Kim Burbrink (Source: Louisville Metro Police Department)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Louisville Metro Police major who was in charge of the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor on March 13 was demoted and reassigned for not following orders to stay out of the investigation of her unit. 

Kim Burbrink, who was commander of the department’s Criminal Interdiction Division, had been on administrative reassignment pending an internal investigation in October, at the request of then acting Chief Yvette Gentry.

Burbrink was demoted from major to lieutenant and moved from the interdiction unit to the Special Operations division for failing to follow an order not to question investigators looking into her unit, Chief Erika Shields wrote in a Jan. 19 memorandum. 

The memorandum, obtained by WDRB News Friday under the Kentucky Open Records Act, says Burbrink "failed to follow a direct order given to you from Lieutenant Colonel Andy McClinton to not contact or ask questions regarding any investigations pertaining to the Criminal Interdiction Unit." 

Burbrink violated an "obedience to orders" standard of department procedures, according to the memorandum. 

"I consider the demotion and transfer to be both appropriate and necessary to the maintenance of good order and discipline within the Department," Shields wrote. 

Burbrink was also investigated for "her conversation" on Oct. 16 with Maj. Micah Scheu, according to the investigative initiating letter. The memorandum, however, does not say anything more about that part of the investigation. 

The investigation of Burbrink was launched on Oct. 19. 

WDRB News has requested the full investigation of Burbrink from LMPD but the department has so far only turned over the initiating letter and findings. 

In a previous statement, Shields said she demoted Burbrink at the recommendation of her command staff following an internal investigation.

"Although these events unfolded prior to my arrival here, I find this to be the appropriate course of action based on the recommendations of my senior staff," Sheilds wrote in a Jan. 25 statement. "Internal investigations and resulting discipline are paramount to the accountability of this police department and those across the nation. Although, Lieutenant Burbrink’s rank has changed, I feel confident in her ability to continue to serve this community."

The move was the first major change in response to the Taylor shooting since Shields was sworn in last month as Louisville's police chief, pledging to turn the embattled department into a "flagship agency." 

Lt. D. Thompson has been serving as acting commander of LMPD's Criminal Interdiction Division.

An investigation into Burbrink was launched less than two weeks after LMPD made public its Public Integrity Unit's (PIU) probe into the fatal shooting of Taylor.

The probe contains a report of officers questioning Burbrink's involvement in a May 14 WebEx briefing about the shooting

Burbrink was accused of trying to pressure internal investigators who were questioning officers involved in the Taylor raid. 

Investigators made several requests, reaching as high as then-Deputy Chief Robert Schroeder, asking that Burbrink not attend the WebEx meeting about the shooting case as she was an "informational witness," according to an investigative summary of the case written by Sgt. Jason Vance of the Public Integrity Unit in July. 

Those requests were denied because Burbrink was the commander of the unit that raided Taylor’s apartment, Vance's report says.

During the meeting, Burbrink asked "pointed questions" and cast doubt on how the PIU collected evidence at the scene, according to Vance's report.

After investigators told then-Chief Steve Conrad that there were inconsistencies in Detective Brett Hankison’s account of the raid, Vance's report says 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," Vance's report says.

Schroeder, who retired as interim police chief Oct. 1, later apologized for Burbrink’s actions and said the decision to involve her in the meeting was "a mistake," Vance wrote.

Taylor, 26, was shot six times and killed when officers raided her apartment near Pleasure Ridge Park as part of a larger narcotics investigation.

Police shot Taylor after her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired at who he believed were intruders, his attorney has said. 

Walker fired a single shot from a 9 mm handgun that hit Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the upper left thigh. Mattingly underwent surgery to repair his femoral artery in the hours after the raid. 

Mattingly, Hankison and former Detective Myles Cosgrove combined to return 32 shots. 

A Jefferson County grand jury charged Hankison with three felony counts of wanton endangerment for firing into a nearby apartment during the raid on Taylor's apartment. 

Neither Hankison nor the other two officers who fired their weapons into Taylor's apartment were charged in connection to her death. 

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Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason can be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.