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Shooting of Breonna Taylor

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Shooting of Breonna Taylor
DateMarch 13, 2020; 3 months ago (2020-03-13)
LocationLouisville, Kentucky
Coordinates38°15′10″N 85°45′31″W / 38.2527°N 85.7585°W / 38.2527; -85.7585Coordinates: 38°15′10″N 85°45′31″W / 38.2527°N 85.7585°W / 38.2527; -85.7585
TypeShooting
TargetResidential search
ParticipantsJonathan Mattingly
Brett Hankison
Myles Cosgrove

Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American emergency medical technician, was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers on March 13, 2020. Three plainclothes LMPD officers executing a no-knock search warrant entered her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky. Gunfire was exchanged between Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker and the officers. Walker said he believed that the officers were intruders. The LMPD officers fired over twenty shots. Taylor was shot eight times[1] and LMPD Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly was injured by gunfire.[2] Another police officer and an LMPD lieutenant were on the scene when the warrant was executed.[3]

The primary targets of the LMPD investigation were Jamarcus Glover and Adrian Walker, who were suspected of selling controlled substances from a drug house more than 10 miles (16 km) away.[4][5] Glover had a prior relationship with Taylor.[5] The search warrant included Taylor's residence because it was suspected that Glover received packages containing drugs at Taylor's apartment and because a car registered to Taylor had been seen parked on several occasions in front of Glover's house.[5][6] No drugs were found in the apartment.[7]

Walker was licensed to carry a firearm and fired first, injuring a law enforcement officer, whereupon police returned fire into the apartment with more than 20 rounds. According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the police by the Taylor family's attorney, the officers, who entered Taylor's home without knocking or announcing a search warrant, opened fire "with a total disregard for the value of human life."[7][8]

Persons involved

  • Breonna Taylor - an emergency medical technician[9] working for University of Louisville Health.[9][10][11] Her funeral was held on March 21, 2020.[10]
  • Kenneth Walker - Taylor's boyfriend, who lived with her in the apartment.
  • Jonathan Mattingly - an LMPD police officer who joined the department in 2000, became a sergeant in 2009, and joined the narcotics division in 2016.[3]
  • Brett Hankison - an LMPD detective. Hankison joined the department in 2003.[3]
  • Myles Cosgrove - an LMPD police officer who transferred to the department's narcotics division in 2016.[3]

Shooting

Shortly after midnight on March 13, 2020, Louisville police entered the apartment of Breonna Taylor and Kenneth Walker using a battering ram to force open the door. The police were investigating two men they believed were selling drugs. The Taylor/Walker home was included in a signed "no-knock" search warrant, signed by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mary M. Shaw, reportedly based on representations by police that one of the men used the apartment to receive packages.[12][5] The suspected drug dealer had allegedly been seen walking into Taylor's apartment one January afternoon with a USPS package before leaving and driving to a known drug house, and the warrant said a US Postal Inspector confirmed that the man had been receiving packages at the apartment.[4] Postal Inspector Tony Gooden has said that his office had told police there were no packages of interest being received there.[13]

Louisville police stated that they announced themselves while entering the home after knocking several times and saying they were Louisville police officers with a search warrant. Neighbors and Taylor's family dispute this, saying there was no announcement and that Walker and Taylor believed someone was breaking in, causing Walker to act in self-defense.[4] Walker said in his police interrogation that Taylor yelled multiple times, "Who is it?" after hearing a loud bang at the door, but received no answer, and that he then armed himself. Walker, a licensed firearm carrier, shot first, striking a police officer in the leg; in response, the officers opened fire with more than 20 rounds, hitting objects in the living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway, bathroom, and both bedrooms. Taylor was shot at least eight times and pronounced dead at the scene.[14] No drugs were found in the apartment.[7] According to anonymous sources who spoke to WAVE3 News, one of the three officers allegedly fired blindly from the exterior of the residence, through a window with closed blinds and curtains; the sources said they do not believe Taylor was struck by any of the bullets fired by the officer who was outside.[15]

Investigations and aftermath

Inaccurate police incident report

The police filed an incident report that was nearly entirely blank. The report stated that Taylor had no injuries, even though she died from gunshot wounds. It also stated that no forced entry occurred, even though the officers had used a battering ram. The police department said that technical errors led to a malformed report.[16]

Investigations into the three police officers

All three officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative reassignment pending the outcome of an investigation[14] by the police department's internal Professional Integrity Unit.[3] On May 20, 2020, the investigation's findings were given to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to determine whether any officer should be criminally charged. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer also asked the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office to review the findings.[3] The FBI is also conducting its own independent investigation,[3] announced by the Bureau's Louisville field office on May 21, 2020.[17]

In early June, Fischer called for Officer Hankison to be removed from the Louisville Police Merit Board, which reviews appeals from police offices in departmental disciplinary matters.[18] Hankison was one of five members of the board, which consists of three civilians and two police officers selected by the River City Fraternal Order of Police.[18] On June 19, 2020, three months after Taylor's killing, Louisville Metro Police interim chief Robert Schroeder sent Hankison a letter notifying him that Schroeder had begun termination proceedings against him.[19][20] The letter accused Hankison of violating departmental policies on the use of deadly force by "wantonly and blindly" firing into Taylor's apartment without determining whether any person presented "an immediate threat" or whether there were "any innocent persons present".[19] The letter also cited past disciplinary action taken against Hankison by the department, including for reckless conduct.[21] Hankison was formally fired four days later; he has ten days to appeal his termination to the Louisville Police Merit Board.[22]

Sexual assault allegations against Hankison are separately under investigation.[18][21]

Kenneth Walker

Walker initially faced criminal charges of first-degree assault and attempted murder of a police officer.[7][23] The LMPD officers said they announced themselves before entering the home and were immediately met with gunfire from Walker. According to their statement, Walker discharged his firearm first, injuring an officer. Walker's lawyer said Walker thought that someone was entering the residence illegally and that Walker acted only in self-defense. The 911 calls were later released to the public, with Walker recorded telling the 911 operator, "somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend".[24]

Walker was later released from jail due to coronavirus concerns, which drew criticism from Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Steve Conrad.[25]

Judge Olu Stevens released Walker from home incarceration on May 22. Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine moved to dismiss all charges against Walker in late May. The case could be presented to a grand jury again after reviewing the results of the FBI's and the Kentucky Attorney General's Office's investigations. Wine dropped the charges because the officers never mentioned Taylor by name to the grand jury or that they shot her. Walker's close friends said that his job was to protect Taylor at any cost.[26][27] Rob Eggert, an attorney representing Walker, released a statement saying, "he just wanted to resume his life". At the same time, his attorney said that he could be charged again later as more facts come out of the shooting.[28] On June 16, Eggert filed a motion to permanently dismiss the indictment charging Walker with attempted murder and assault. The motion asked Stevens to grant Walker immunity because he was within his rights to defend himself and Taylor under Kentucky's stand-your-ground law.[29]

Taylor's family

On May 15, Taylor's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit. It states that Taylor and Walker were sleeping in their bedroom before the incident happened, and that the police officers were in unmarked vehicles. None of the officers were wearing body cameras, as all three were plainclothes narcotics officers.[17] Taylor and Walker thought their home had been broken into by criminals and that "they were in significant, imminent danger." The lawsuit alleges that "the officers then entered Breonna's home without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers. The Defendants then proceeded to spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life."[7][8]

Release of photos of the scene

On May 14, photos were released to the public in The Courier-Journal by Sam Aguiar, an attorney representing Taylor's family. The photos show bullet damage in their apartment and the apartment next door.[30]

Changes to police department policy and firing of police chief

On May 21, Police Chief Steve Conrad announced his retirement after intense local and national criticism for the department's handling of the case, to be effective June 30.[31] Conrad was fired on June 1 after the fatal shooting of black business owner David McAtee.[32]

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer indefinitely suspended the use of "no knock" warrants on May 29.[33]

The LMPD has also announced on June 10 that it will require all sworn officers to wear body cameras, and will change how it carries out search warrants.[17]

Protests and public reaction

For months after the shooting, there were demands from Taylor's family, some members of the local community, and protesters worldwide that the officers involved in the shooting be fired and criminally charged.[34][19] Multiple protesters, including friends and family of Taylor, protested outside Mayor Fischer's office on May 26, 2020, and demanded the three officers be arrested and charged with murder.[35]

Protesters in Indianapolis shouting out Taylor's name in remembrance for what would have been her 27th birthday.
A protest against racism in Berlin, Germany, on June 6, 2020; demonstrators hold posters with the photos of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

On May 28, 500 to 600 demonstrators marched in Downtown Louisville, chanting, "No justice, no peace, prosecute police!" and "Breonna, Breonna, Breonna!"[36][37] The protests continued into the early morning of May 29, when seven people were shot; one was in critical condition. At the same time, Taylor's sister, Juniyah Palmer, posted on her Facebook page, "At this point y'all are no longer doing this for my sister! You guys are just vandalizing stuff for NO reason, I had a friend ask people why they are there most didn't even know the 'protest' was for my sister."[38][39] These protests and demonstrations were part of the nationwide reaction to the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man who was killed in police custody on May 25, 2020.[40]

On May 27, one Louisville police sergeant said that "The comment section is full of 'All cops need to die' and 'Kill pigs' and things like that" and that several days earlier, while responding to a 911 call near Taylor's apartment, multiple people threw pieces of concrete at police officers (who were uninjured) and then ran away.[41]

On June 27, 2020, Steven Lopez was arrested after firing shots on the crowd of protestors gathered at Louisville's Jefferson Square Park, killing one and injuring another.[42] Lopez had previous taken part in the Breonna Taylor protests before the incident took place as well, but later got into arguments with other Jefferson Park protestors which resulted in at least three reported physical confrontations.[42] Lopez was also among a group of 17 Louisville protestors who had been arrested on June 17 for inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, harassment and possession of drug paraphernalia.[42]

Legislative proposals

In June 2020, Democrats in Congress introduced the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a broad bill containing measures to combat misconduct, excessive force, and racial bias in policing.[43][44][45] The bill would prohibit the issuance of no-knock warrants (like the kind used in the raid that resulted in Taylor's killing) in federal drug investigations and provide incentives to states to enact a similar prohibition.[45][44]

Kentucky's Senator Rand Paul introduced the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act, which would prohibit federal law enforcement from carrying out a warrant "until after the officer provides notice of his or her authority and purpose." It would also apply to state and local law enforcement that receive funding from the Justice Department.[46]

On June 10 the Louisville city council voted unanimously to ban no-knock search warrants. The law is called Breonna's Law and requires all officers who serve warrants to wear body cameras and have them turned on from at least five minutes before the warrant is served to at least five minutes after it is served.[47]

Reactions

For weeks after Taylor's death, there was very little public reaction or response from government officials.[48] The LMPD has not provided many details about the shooting or answers to questions about the case.[49] On May 13, 2020, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear responded to reports about Taylor's death and said the public deserved to know everything about the March raid. Beshear requested that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and local and federal prosecutors review the Louisville police's initial investigation "to ensure justice is done at a time when many are concerned that justice is not blind."[50] On May 14, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and LMPD Chief Steve Conrad announced they had asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney to review the local findings of the Public Integrity Unit's investigation when it is completed.[51] Commentators such as Arwa Mahdawi and Professor Brittney Cooper suggested Taylor's killing would likely not have received so much attention if not for the George Floyd protests, as black women are often neglected. Mahdawi related this to the #SayHerName campaign and Malcolm X's statement "The most disrespected person in America is the black woman," and called for further protest until justice for Taylor is secured.[52][53]

"Arrest the cops that killed Breonna Taylor" has become a common Internet meme akin to "Epstein didn't kill himself", which has drawn mixed reactions.[54][55][56]

See also

References

  1. ^ Bailey, Tessa Duvall, Darcy Costello and Phillip M. (May 14, 2020). "Senator Kamala Harris demands federal investigation of police shooting of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky". USA Today. Archived from the original on May 13, 2020. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  2. ^ Wise, John (March 13, 2020). "Officers, suspect involved in deadly confrontation identified". Archived from the original on May 30, 2020. Retrieved May 31, 2020. Sgt. Jon Mattingly, who has been with LMPD since 2000, also was struck by gunfire. He's expected to survive.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Darcy Costello & Tessa Duvall, Who are the 3 Louisville officers involved in the Breonna Taylor shooting? What we know, Louisville Courier Journal (May 16, 2020; updated June 20, 2020).
  4. ^ a b c Duvall, Tessa; Costello, Darcy (May 12, 2020). "Senator Kamala Harris demands federal investigation of police shooting of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky". Louisville Courier Journal.
  5. ^ a b c d Duvall, Tessa (June 16, 2020). "FACT CHECK: 7 widely shared inaccuracies in the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  6. ^ Burke, Minyvonne (May 13, 2020). "Breonna Taylor police shooting: What we know about the Kentucky woman's death". NBC News. Archived from the original on May 30, 2020. Retrieved May 31, 2020. Her address was listed on the search warrant based on police's belief that Glover had used her apartment to receive mail, keep drugs or stash money. The warrant also stated that a car registered to Taylor had been seen parked on several occasions in front of a "drug house" known to Glover.
  7. ^ a b c d e Burke, Minyvonne (May 13, 2020). "Woman shot and killed by Kentucky police who entered wrong home, family says". NBC News. Archived from the original on May 14, 2020. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  8. ^ a b Brito, Christopher (May 15, 2020). "Family sues after 26-year-old EMT is shot and killed by police in her own home". CBS News. Archived from the original on May 15, 2020. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Shellbourne, Talis (May 13, 2020). "Breonna Taylor: Louisville EMT Killed in Botched Police Raid, Lawyer Says". heavy. Archived from the original on May 13, 2020. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Breonna Taylor Obituary - Visitation & Funeral Information". springvalleyfuneral.net. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  11. ^ Martinez, Natila (May 14, 2020). "Personnel records give timeline of Breonna Taylor's career as an EMT". Wave 3 News. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  12. ^ Jr, Richard A. Oppel (May 30, 2020). "Here's What You Need to Know About Breonna Taylor's Death". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on June 1, 2020. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  13. ^ Ragsdale, Jason Riley, Marcus Green and Travis (May 16, 2020). "Louisville postal inspector: No 'packages of interest' at slain EMT Breonna Taylor's home". WDRB. Archived from the original on June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Read, Bridget (May 27, 2020). "Breonna Taylor Was Shot and Killed by Police in Her Own Home". The Cut. Archived from the original on May 30, 2020. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  15. ^ Martinez, Natalia (May 14, 2020). "Breonna Taylor Shooting: Officer accused of shooting through windows with blinds closed". wave3.com. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  16. ^ Duvall, Tessa (June 11, 2020). "Louisville police release the Breonna Taylor incident report. It's virtually blank". Louisville Courier Journal. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  17. ^ a b c Andrew, Scottie (May 21, 2020). "The FBI has opened an investigation into the shooting death of Kentucky EMT Breonna Taylor". CNN. Archived from the original on May 30, 2020. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  18. ^ a b c Crystal Bonvillian. "Officer in Breonna Taylor case under investigation for sexual assault, mayor says". WFXT. Cox Media Group National Content. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  19. ^ a b c Darcy Costello, Louisville police is firing officer Brett Hankison involved in Breonna Taylor shooting, Louisville Courier Journal (June 19, 2020).
  20. ^ Rebecca Reynolds Yonker & Bruce Schreiner, Officer involved in Breonna Taylor shooting to be fired, Associated Press (June 19, 2020).
  21. ^ a b Darcy Costello & Tessa Duvall, Officer Brett Hankison being fired from Louisville police after Breonna Taylor shooting, Louisville Courier Journal (June 19, 2020).
  22. ^ Fired: Det. Brett Hankison's termination from LMPD is official, WLKY (June 23, 2020).
  23. ^ Duvall, Tessa (May 13, 2020). "Shooting victim Breonna Taylor's lawyer to Louisville police: 'Get your damn story straight'". The Courier-Journal.
  24. ^ Albert, Victoria (May 29, 2020). "911 call from Breonna Taylor's shooting death released: "Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend"". CBS News. Archived from the original on May 30, 2020. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  25. ^ Shelbourne, Talis (May 10, 2020). "Breonna Taylor: Louisville EMT Killed in Botched Police Raid, Lawyer Says". Heavy.com. Archived from the original on May 13, 2020. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  26. ^ Costello, Darcy; Wolfson, Andrew (May 22, 2020). "Prosecutor to dismiss charges against Breonna Taylor's boyfriend, wants more investigation". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  27. ^ Ashley, Phylica (May 22, 2020). "Kenneth Walker's friends say his goal was to 'protect Breonna at any cost'". Wave 3 News. Archived from the original on May 29, 2020. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  28. ^ "Judge grants order to dismiss charges against Kenneth Walker, boyfriend of the late Breonna Taylor". WDRB. May 26, 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  29. ^ Wolfson, Andrew. "Kenneth Walker attorney asks for permanent dismissal of attempted murder, assault charges". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  30. ^ Duvall, Tessa (May 14, 2020). "Newly released photos, audio illustrate deadly moments in police shooting of Breonna Taylor". The Courier Journal. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  31. ^ Costello, Darcy; Wolfson, Andrew (May 21, 2020). "Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad announces retirement in wake of Breonna Taylor shooting". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  32. ^ Martinez, Peter (June 1, 2020). "Louisville police chief fired after fatal shooting of black business owner". CBS News. Archived from the original on June 4, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  33. ^ Team, WLKY Digital (May 29, 2020). "Following protests, Louisville mayor puts end to no-knock warrants for now". WLKY. Archived from the original on June 4, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  34. ^ Ray Sanchez and Elizabeth Joseph. "Louisville, Kentucky, seeks to fire police officer in shooting of Breonna Taylor". CNN. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  35. ^ Ratterman, Lexie; Shanahan, Kristen (May 26, 2020). "Protesters demand Mayor Fischer fire LMPD officers who shot, killed Breonna Taylor". WDRB. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  36. ^ "7 shot at Louisville protest over fatal police shooting". The San Diego Union-Tribune. May 29, 2020. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  37. ^ Sylvestri, Shellie (May 29, 2020). "7 shot as Breonna Taylor supporters protest in downtown Louisville". WAVE-TV. Archived from the original on May 31, 2020. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  38. ^ "Seven people shot during Louisville protests". WYMT-TV. May 29, 2020. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  39. ^ Vogt, Dustin (May 30, 2020). "Sister of Breonna Taylor posts reaction against violent protest". WAVE-TV. Archived from the original on June 1, 2020. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  40. ^ Evan McMorris-Santoro; Kevin Brunelli; Theresa Waldrop (June 2, 2020). "Louisville, Kentucky, police chief fired after protest shooting death". CNN. Archived from the original on June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  41. ^ Lord, Shaquille (May 27, 2020). "LMPD says national exposure of Breonna Taylor case causing concern for officer safety". WLKY. Archived from the original on May 30, 2020. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  42. ^ a b c "Authorities identify suspect in fatal shooting at Jefferson Square Park". WDRB. June 29, 2020. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  43. ^ Claudia Grisales; Susan Davis; Kelsey Snell (June 8, 2020). "In Wake Of Protests, Democrats To Unveil Police Reform Legislation". NPR.
  44. ^ a b Fandos, Nicholas (June 6, 2020). "Democrats to Propose Broad Bill to Target Police Misconduct and Racial Bias". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  45. ^ a b Caldwell, Leigh Ann; Shabad, Rebecca (June 8, 2020). "Congressional Democrats unveil sweeping police reform bill that would ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants in drug cases". NBC News.
  46. ^ Vella, Lauren (June 11, 2020). "Rand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants". The Hill. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  47. ^ Johnson, Martin (June 11, 2020). "Louisville passes 'Breonna's Law' banning no-knock warrants". The Hill. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  48. ^ Wood, Josh (May 14, 2020). "Breonna Taylor shooting: hunt for answers in case of black woman killed by police". The Guardian. Archived from the original on May 14, 2020. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  49. ^ Costello, Darcy; Duvall, Tessa (June 5, 2020). "Who was Breonna Taylor? What to know about the Louisville EMT shot and killed by police". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  50. ^ Bogel-Burroughs, Nicholas (May 14, 2020). "Months After Louisville Police Kill Woman in Her Home, Governor Calls for Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 15, 2020. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  51. ^ Wise, John P. (May 14, 2020). "Fischer, LMPD chief call for federal review of Breonna Taylor case". Wave 3 News. Archived from the original on May 20, 2020. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  52. ^ Mahdawi, Arwa (June 6, 2020). "We must keep fighting for justice for Breonna Taylor. We must keep saying her name". The Guardian. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  53. ^ Brittney Cooper (June 4, 2020). "Why Are Black Women and Girls Still an Afterthought in Our Outrage Over Police Violence?". Time. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  54. ^ Haasch, Palmer. "Calls to 'arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor' have been turned into an online meme that some say has gone too far". Insider. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  55. ^ Blay, Zeba (July 2, 2020). "The Memeification Of Breonna Taylor's Death". HuffPost. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  56. ^ "A new genre of protest meme has Breonna Taylor's name trending. But is it appropriate?". NBC News. Retrieved July 3, 2020.

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