The city of Louisville will pay $12 million to the family of Breonna Taylor as part of a legal settlement six months after the Kentucky EMT worker was fatally shot in her home during a botched police raid.
Taylor, a 26-year-old who worked for two local hospitals, and her boyfriend were asleep in their apartment on March 13 when Louisville officers executed a “no-knock” search warrant looking for a suspected drug dealer who lived in a different part of town. Taylor was shot several times, spurring an FBI investigation and unleashing a wave of protests alongside the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.
“As significant as today is, it’s only the beginning of getting full justice for Breonna,” Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said Monday. “It’s time to move forward with the criminal charges because she deserves that and much more.”
“Her beautiful spirit and personality is working through all of us on the ground. So please continue to say her name,” Palmer added.
A month after her death, Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the three officers involved, alleging authorities used excessive force. In an amended complaint, the family also claimed Taylor’s death was the result of a politically-driven police operation “to clear out” a Louisville street to make way for a multi-million-dollar gentrification plan.
The multi-million-dollar deal, first reported by The New York Times, also includes several police reforms that will address officer accountability and how search warrants are executed. Some of the new reforms include an overhaul of how simultaneous search warrants are executed, a mandate that commanding officers review and approve all warrants before they are presented to a judge, and an early-action warning system that will identify officers with “red flags,” according to FOX19.
“I cannot begin to imagine Ms. Palmer’s pain, and I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna’s death,” Mayor Greg Fischer said Monday.
According to civil-rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Taylor’s family, the “$12 million settlement is the largest amount ever paid out to a Black woman killed in an interaction with a police officer.”
But despite the historic deal that will also require the Louisville Police Department to hire social workers to help officers on certain cases, Crump stressed Taylor’s family is still waiting for charges against the officers who killed the 26-year-old.
“We wanted to make sure that Breonna Taylor’s life was not swept under the rug like some many Black women’s lives are when subjected to police violence,” Crump added.
The officers involved—Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove—have not been charged for the March 13 incident. A Jefferson County grand jury is expected to meet as early as this week to decide whether criminal charges should be filed.
Internal records obtained by the Courier Journal showed that the “no-knock” search warrant was granted by a judge as part of a narcotics investigation into suspected drug dealer Jamarcus Glover, who Taylor once dated.
An affidavit summarizing the investigation alleged that Glover went to Taylor’s apartment in January and left with a “suspicious USPS package” before going to a “known drug house.” The warrant also stated that a car registered to Taylor was seen in front of the “drug house” on several occasions, which was about 10 miles from Taylor’s apartment.
In reality, neither Taylor nor her boyfriend Kenny Walker had “any criminal history for drugs of violence,” or any drugs at the apartment, a lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family alleged.
The Taylor family’s amended lawsuit alleged that a newly-formed police unit “deliberately misled” narcotics detectives to target Glover’s home on Elliott Avenue, too, as part of a gentrification project. The city strongly denied the allegation.
“Breonna’s home should never have had police there in the first place,” the amended lawsuit, filed by Taylor’s family in Jefferson Circuit Court in July, stated. “When the layers are peeled back, the origin of Breonna’s home being raided by police starts with a political need to clear out a street for a large real estate development project and finishes with a newly formed, rogue police unit violating all levels of policy, protocol, and policing standards.”
The no-knock entry is only granted in investigations where there is reasonable suspicion that an announced entry would be dangerous. In this case, officers argued it was needed because “these drug traffickers have a history of attempting to destroy evidence, have cameras on the location that compromise detectives once an approach to the dwelling is made, and have a history of fleeing from law enforcement.”
Authorities initially claimed that, despite being granted a “no-knock” entry, the officers “knocked on the door several times and announced their presence” when they arrived at Taylor’s home at around 1 a.m. They then “forced entry” and were immediately met with gunfire, authorities said.
However, the lawsuit alleged that, not only did the plainclothes officers enter the home “without knocking and without announcing themselves,” but they approached the house in unmarked cars “which kept them from being detected by neighbors.”
Walker was startled awake and believed the apartment was being burglarized. The couple walked out to the hallway, terrified by “loud bangs sounds” and the front door coming off its hinges, the lawsuit stated.
“Breonna and Kenny become scared. It’s late,” the lawsuit stated. “There’s no good or safe reason for people to be at the home at this hour. There’s no good or safe reason for those knocking to not say who they are.”
The lawsuit stated Walker, 28, used his legal firearm to fire one gunshot out of self-defense, hitting Mattingly in the thigh and prompting officers to return fire with more than 20 rounds. At least five of those shots hit Taylor. In the 911 call Walker placed just after the shots were fired, the 28-year-old told a dispatcher that “somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.” Authorities have admitted there was no body-camera footage from the raid.
According to the lawsuit, Taylor “was not killed immediately” from the gunfire, but “lived for another five to six minutes before ultimately succumbing to her injuries on the floor of her home.”
Meanwhile, officers across town who initially couldn’t find Glover at the Elliott Avenue residence had located him at around 11:40 p.m. Nevertheless, they still moved forward with the search warrant at Taylor’s home.
The settlement reached Tuesday also requires the presence of emergency medical personnel whenever a warrant is executed, according to FOX19. The reform comes after authorities learned an ambulance left Taylor’s apartment before officers issued the warrant—meaning the 26-year-old did not receive immediate attention and succumbed to her injuries in her apartment.
Walker was initially charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer, but Kentucky prosecutors dismissed all charges in May. Glover claimed after Taylor’s death that Louisville prosecutors offered him a plea deal in exchange for testimony that would falsely incriminate her in drug offenses.
In April, Hankison was fired for his conduct in the raid. He showed an “extreme indifference to the value of human life” by allegedly “blindly” firing 10 rounds into Taylor’s home, his termination letter said.
The other two officers and the detective who requested the warrant were placed on administrative leave. An internal memo indicated they couldn’t be suspended without pay because there wasn’t “indisputable evidence” of what happened.
“It is time to move forward with the criminal charges because she deserves that and much more,” Palmer added Tuesday.