Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT worker in Louisville, Ky., was shot in her bed after midnight on March 13 by three police officers serving a “no-knock warrant,” becoming another statistic in the long list of African-Americans killed by police. What makes the case unusual is that Taylor was a woman.
She was asleep.
The incident is still being investigated and Taylor’s family is suing Louisville Metro Police Department Officers Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankinson and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly alleging wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence. According to the suit, the police fired more than 20 rounds in the apartment. Taylor was hit eight times and pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the Courier-Journal, the officers were looking for a drug suspect who lived 10 miles away and was already in police custody. Police said the suspect had used the address where Taylor lived with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, to receive packages in the mail. No drugs were found in the apartment, and neither Taylor nor Walker has an arrest record.
The warrant contained a “no-knock” provision, which allows police to enter a home without identifying themselves. Officers said they knocked on the door several times and “announced their presence as police who were there with a search warrant.” But when no one came to the door, the police forced their way in and “were immediately met by gunfire,” Lt. Ted Eidem said at a March 13 press conference. One officer was shot and wounded in the leg.
The shot was fired by Walker, who, according to his lawyer, was licensed to have a firearm and fired in self-defense, believing the intruders were burglars. Walker has been charged with first-degree assault and attempted murder of a police officer.
The Department has refused to answer questions regarding this topic, still citing that an investigation is underway. No body-camera footage is available from the incident, since officers in the Criminal Interdiction Division, who conducted the search warrant, do not wear cameras, LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said. None of the officers involved have been charged in connection with the shooting.
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, filed the lawsuit in April in Jefferson Circuit Court. “Breonna had posed no threat to the officers and did nothing to deserve to die at their hands,” the lawsuit reads. “Shots were blindly fired by the officers all throughout Breonna’s home.”
The incident gained little national attention for weeks, as the country has been preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic. Taylor’s sister, Ju’Niyah Palmer, has been on social media posting pictures of her with her sister with the hashtag #JusticeForBre to call attention to the case. “I’m just getting awareness for my sister, for people to know who she is, what her name is,” Palmer, 20, said to the Washington Post.
Palmer hopes to get the message out that black women as well as men are victims of gun violence at the hands of police or self-appointed vigilantes.“It is literally just as equal. There’s no difference.”