UPDATE (9/15/2020, 6:35 p.m. ET): On Sept. 15, 2020, Louisville announced they agreed to pay Breonna Taylor’s family a $12 million settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit. The city in Kentucky also vowed to enact police reforms, according to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Taylor’s family and their attorneys, who all made the announcement during a press conference on Tuesday, CNN reported.
UPDATE (6/11/2020 @ 11:30 p.m. ET): A ban on no-knock search warrants was passed in Louisville, Kentucky on Thursday, June 11. Named “Breonna’s Law,” the metro city council of Louisville unanimously voted to pass the the ordinance.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old medical worker in Louisville, KY, is gaining national attention after being tragically shot and killed by Louisville police in her own apartment on March 13. The African-American woman was sleeping in her bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, 27, when the police officers forcefully entered her apartment in the middle of the night after obtaining a “no-knock” search warrant during an investigation into two men they believed were selling drugs out of a house far from Breonna’s home. They got the search warrant because they believed the men were using her home address to receive packages.
Although the disturbing incident that took Breonna’s life happened almost three months ago, it’s getting more and more exposure after the headline-making death of African-American man George Floyd, who died after Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes even though he repeatedly told him he couldn’t breathe during an arrest on May 25. Both of their deaths and many more are shedding light on racism and for the past two weeks, it’s prompted thousands of protesters, including celebrities, to go out and fight against racial injustice in cities all over the United States.
Here are five things you should know about Breonna and the tragic circumstances surrounding her death.
1.) There are disputes about how the police entered Breonna’s apartment. The three police officers on the scene claim they identified themselves as police with a warrant before entering Breonna’s apartment but her relatives and lawyers say otherwise. The police claim they knocked several times before forcing the door open despite their “no-knock” search warrant and said they “forced entry into the exterior door and were immediately met with gunfire,” in a live video with the Louisville Police Department. The gunfire, which came from Kenneth, wounded one officer in the leg but he was expected to make a full recovery.
Although Kenneth was initially charged with attempted murder of a police officer, the charge was dismissed earlier this month and the three police officers involved have been placed on administrative reassignment. Breonna’s relatives and lawyer say the police never identified themselves before entering the apartment and claim Kenneth was licensed to carry a gun. They also claim Kenneth only fired his gun out of self defense because he thought the apartment was being robbed.
“He didn’t know these were police officers, and they found no drugs in the apartment. None,” said Kenneth’s lawyer, Rob Eggert. “He was scared for his life, and her life.”
2.) In a 911 call from the incident, Kenneth calls the police “somebody”. “Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend,” he can be heard saying to the 911 operator in the recording, which was released last week. Since he didn’t mention police in the call, it supports his claim that he didn’t know it was police entering the apartment.
3.) Lawyers for Breonna’s family say the coronavirus pandemic affected the case. They say that the media surrounding the virus over the past few months most likely caused a delay in response from people in their community and the news.
4.) The F.B.I. is investigating the shooting. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called Breonna’s death “tragic” and temporarily suspended all “no-knock” warrants this week. He also instituted a new policy that requires the “no-knock” warrants to be endorsed by the police chief or someone designated by the chief before ultimately being sent to a judge to get approved. Other changes he made in response to Breonna’s case include naming a new police chief and requiring body cameras, which weren’t worn on the officers who shot Breonna, to be worn every time an officer enters a place with a search warrant.
5.) She had big plans for the future. “She had a whole plan on becoming a nurse and buying a house and then starting a family,” Breonna’s mother, Tamika Palmer told The Courier Journal. “Breonna had her head on straight, and she was a very decent person. She didn’t deserve this. She wasn’t that type of person.”