LMPD Det. Brett Hankison

Det. Brett Hankison with the Louisville Metro Police Department

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The attorney of former Louisville Metro Police Detective Brett Hankison described his client’s firing as a "cowardly political act" and alleged that Mayor Greg Fischer had bowed to public pressure.

David Leightty, with Louisville-based Priddy, Cutler, Naake & Meade, has filed an appeal of Hankison’s firing and is requesting a hearing before the Louisville Police Merit Board. 

Hankison, who police said fired shots during the March 13 raid that killed Breonna Taylor, was fired by Louisville Metro Police Department on Tuesday.

Hankison, along with Sgt. Jon Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, executed a search warrant at Taylor’s apartment on claims that a suspected drug dealer was using the residence to receive packages and keep narcotics or proceeds from drug sales. 

Police shot and killed Taylor after her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire. Walker has said that he believed he and Taylor were being robbed. Police have said the officers knocked and announced their presence before entering the apartment.

In an initial termination letter, acting LMPD Chief Robert Schroeder wrote that Hankison "wantonly and blindly fired 10 rounds" into a patio door and window of Taylor's apartment, creating a "substantial danger of death and serious injury" to Taylor and three occupants of other apartments. Schroeder also wrote that Hankison's conduct in Taylor's shooting was "a shock to the conscience."

The killing of Taylor, a Black woman, at the hands of white police officers, has prompted protesters to march and gather in Louisville for weeks to denounce police brutality and demand justice for Taylor. 

In his request for a merit board hearing, Leightty wrote that Schroeder fired Hankison prematurely, as none of the three investigations — by the Attorney General’s office, Kentucky State Police and the FBI — have been completed.

"Why impose punishment before the facts have been fully assembled?" Leightty asked. "Why have the chief and the mayor created a termination document amped up with hyperbole?"

"Unfortunately," Leightty wrote, "the answer is that this termination is a cowardly political act."

Leightty also wrote that Fischer allowed himself to be pressured into premature action by members of the public, "angry with our nation’s 400-year history of racial oppression, and horrified by the video of Georg Floyd’s death and other recent events."

Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May.

Leightty also wrote that Hankison did not "blindly" discharge his weapon, that allegations against him are not supported by evidence and that the firing is disproportionate, excessive and unjustified.

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