Just days before the three-year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death, her family has responded to federal officials’ recent revelations.
Community reaction to the news of a federal civil rights investigation into the patterns and practices of the Louisville Metro Police was swift two years after its launch.
While this investigation is separate from the Justice Department’s investigation into Taylor’s death, her name was mentioned by Attorney General Merrick Garland during his appearance in Louisville, as her death was seen as a symptom of larger problems within the department.
Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, acknowledged that while Wednesday was an important day, it was not a justification and changes had to be made and enforced to prevent history from repeating itself.
Lawyer Lonita Baker stressed that the only positive outcome of losing her daughter was that others could avoid a similar fate.
Breonna Taylor murder case
For years, the Louisville Police Department has been found to have discriminated against black and disabled people, used excessive force, made unlawful arrests and searches, and engaged in other practices that have deprived people of their constitutional rights.
This conclusion was reached after a two-year investigation by the Ministry of Justice. To address these issues, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Mayor Craig Greenberg announced an agreement to overhaul the police force in Louisville.
One of the main drivers of nationwide policing and racial injustice demonstrations in 2020 was the death of Breonna Taylor. Ms. Taylor, a black medical worker, was shot and killed by police officers during a botched raid on her apartment in March 2020. However, no officer has ever been charged with shooting her.
On August 4, 2022, the Justice Department charged four current and former police officers with federal civil rights violations, including lying to obtain a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s apartment.
Kelly Goodlett, a detective who retired after being charged, pleaded guilty at a hearing on Aug. 23. Another officer, Kyle Meany, was fired on August 19 by the Louisville Police Department.
Brett Hankison, the third officer to face federal charges, was the only officer to face state charges in the raid. He was indicted on charges of willfully endangering neighbors whose apartment was hit when he fired into Ms Taylor’s apartment without a clear line of sight. He pleaded not guilty and was acquitted.
A New York Times investigation found that the raid was compromised by poor planning and reckless execution. The only support for a grand jury’s conclusion that the officers announced themselves before storming into Ms. Taylor’s apartment, beyond the officers’ own claims, was the account of a single witness who gave inconsistent statements.
Ms Taylor’s family has long been advocating for justice and her case began to draw national attention in May 2020.
Later that year, Louisville officials agreed to pay $12 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Mrs. Taylor’s mother and to implement reforms to prevent officer deaths.
In December 2022, an attorney for Ms. Taylor’s friend, Kenneth Walker, said the city of Louisville had agreed to pay $2 million to settle lawsuits brought by Mr. Walker.
Following nationwide demonstrations in 2020 over police brutality and systemic racism, the Louisville official banned the use of no-knock orders, which allow police to forcibly enter people’s homes to search them without warning, and fired several officers, including the Mr Hankison, who was found to have shown “an extreme indifference to the value of human life”.
However, critics say progress on the case has been slow, especially compared to the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, where officers were quickly fired and charged.
The Justice Department’s two-year investigation found that Louisville police discriminated against black people and people with disabilities, used excessive force, made unlawful arrests and searches, and engaged in other practices that deprived people of their constitutional rights .
Breonna Taylor’s death was one of the main drivers behind nationwide demonstrations over policing and racial injustice in 2020. While some progress has been made, concerns remain about the slow pace of justice in Ms Taylor’s case, particularly in compared to the quicker police response to the murder of George Floyd.