Louisville KY will pay a city-record $12 million to the mother and family of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in a botched raid on her apartment in March.
Taylor’s death, along with those of George Floyd and others, helped trigger the ongoing nationwide protests against killings of Black citizens by law enforcement officers.
The settlement, announced Tuesday afternoon, includes a commitment to reform the Louisville police department.
On March 13, three officers using a “no-knock” warrant in a drug case rammed their way into Taylor’s apartment. Her boyfriend says he thought it was an intruder and fired a legally owned handgun, wounding one of the officers.
In response, the police fired more than 20 shots, hitting Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, eight times. She died at the scene.
“There was no effort to render her aid, as the officers outside scrambled to get an ambulance for the wounded officer,” says the New York Times.
The three officers say they announced themselves as police before ramming the door, but Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, insists they did not.
At a Tuesday news conference, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said: “I cannot begin to imagine Ms. Palmer’s pain, and I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna’s death,” referring to Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, says the Associated Press.
Lonita Baker, a Louisville-based attorney for Taylor’s family, told reporters that “justice for Breonna is multi-layered,” and what was accomplished in the settlement is “only a portion of a single layer,” says the Louisville Courier Journal.
Another of those layers might be prosecution of the three officers involved; the state attorney general is leading a criminal investigation.
“Taylor’s death sparked months of protests in Louisville and calls nationwide for the officers to be criminally charged,” the AP reports. But so far, no such charges have been filed — and it may not happen.
Because the officers were fired on first, “legal experts say their actions may be protected under Kentucky’s statute allowing police officers to use lethal force in self-defense,” the Times says.
One of the three, Detective Brett Hankison, was fired in June; his termination letter said Hankison “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment, Vox reports. The other two officers are on administrative leave.
“The ‘no-knock’ warrant listed Taylor’s name and address, but the main narcotics investigation was centered around Taylor’s former boyfriend, who lived more than 10 miles away from Taylor’s apartment,” reports the Huffington Post.
No drugs were found in the apartment.
As part of the settlement, Louisville agreed to several changes in city policing, including “more scrutiny on officers during the execution of search warrants” like the one used in the Taylor raid.
The city will also “make mandatory safeguards that were common practice in the department but were not followed” the night of the raid, the Times says.
“The settlement also reportedly states that officers who choose to live within city lines will receive housing credits, and officers involved in any shooting would be drug- and alcohol-tested,” the Courier Journal reported.
A lawyer for Taylor’s family told Vox that the city’s handling of the case has been “slow and frustrating” he but hopes the settlement can be “a turning point” for significant police reform.