February 26, 2021 | Black History Month, Flow BLOG
Breonna Taylor was a certified emergency medical technician in Louisville, Ky.
In the early hours of March 13, 2020, she was in the apartment she shared with her partner, Kenneth Walker III, when there was a banging at the door.
Walker was worried. He grabbed his legally-owned gun and he asked who was at the door. There was no answer.
Suddenly, police officers broke down the door with a battering ram. They were not wearing uniforms. Walker, believing the police were intruders, fired one shot. The bullet hit Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the leg.
Mattingly, and two other officers, Det. Brett Hankison and Det. Myles Cosgrove, returned fire. They shot 32 rounds into the apartment.
Walker was unharmed, but Taylor was shot multiple times.
Walker called 911. “Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend,” he said.
Taylor died in the hallway.
Walker was arrested and charged with attempted murder of a police officer and assault. Those charges were eventually dropped.
The police claim Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover used her apartment to hide drugs.
They asked a judge to sign two warrants for Taylor’s apartment – a search warrant and a “no knock” warrant. A “no knock” warrant allows the police to execute a search warrant without knocking on the door.
Taylor’s death gained national attention. Demonstrators called for the officers to be disciplined and charged with her death.
In September 2020, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced Det. Hankison was charged with three counts of “wanton endangerment” for firing into a neighbour’s apartment.
Under Kentucky law, someone is guilty of wanton endangerment if they commit an act that shows “an extreme indifference to the value of human life”. The detective pleaded not guilty.
Sgt. Mattingly and Det. Cosgrove were not charged with anything. Cameron said the two officers were, “justified to protect themselves and the justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges”.
None of the three officers were charged with Taylor’s death.
The Louisville police fired Hankison and placed Cosgrove and Mattingly on administrative duties.
Ben Crump, lawyer for the Taylor family, said the fact that no charges were laid in direct relation to the killing was, “outrageous and offensive”.
In May 2020, Taylor’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the three officers. In September, the city settled and agreed to pay the family $12 million. They also agreed to enact several police reforms.
Police search warrants must now be approved by a senior officer.
Louisville Metro Police officers are now required to wear body cameras. The officers who entered Taylor’s apartment were not wearing cameras.
Taylor’s sister, Ju’Niyah Palmer, says the death affected their mother so deeply that she spent Mother’s Day 2020 in her room, refusing to get out of bed.
Taylor’s aunt, Bianca Austin described her as a “spunky, goofy little kid” who blossomed into a hard-working, goal-oriented young woman who placed an emphasis on family.
“She just was a fun person to be around,” Austin said. “She’s going to be truly, definitely be missed.”
Palmer, Taylor’s sister and best friend, said Taylor had nothing to hide in her apartment and would have been happy to prove that to the police if she’d known it was them at the door.
“If they were to come in and say, ‘Hey, you sell drugs’, she’d be like … that’s not who I am,” Palmer said.
Both women faulted the police for Taylor’s killing and said the officers involved should be charged with murder.
“We’re going to fight this to the end,” her aunt said. “This is our baby and she’s going to get the justice she deserves.”
SOURCES: ABCNEWS.GO.COM, BBC.COM, CNN.COM