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Breonna Taylor Was Killed by Police in Her Home Two Months Ago. Her Case Is Finally Gaining Attention.

breonna taylor

Tamika Palmer and her daughter Ju’Niyah Palmer at a vigil for her other daughter, Breonna Taylor, in Louisville, Kentucky.

© Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Breonna Taylor was only 26 when she was shot and killed by police in her own home. Taylor, who worked as an emergency medical technician, was in her Kentucky apartment with her boyfriend when police attempted what has now been referred to as a “botched” search warrant execution on March 13th.

Her family has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit and hired Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney who is also representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery, whose killing in Georgia has gained widespread attention in recent weeks. More than two months after Arbery’s death, the two white men who have been accused of shooting him were finally arrested.

“They’re killing our sisters just like they’re killing our brothers, but for whatever reason, we have not given our sisters the same attention that we have given to Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Stephon Clark, Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald,” Crump told The Washington Post. “Breonna’s name should be known by everybody in America who said those other names, because she was in her own home, doing absolutely nothing wrong.” He continued, “If you ran for Ahmaud, you need to stand for Bre.”

Below, what you need to know about Taylor’s case.

What happened on March 13th?

In the early morning, police officers came to Taylor’s apartment where her and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker were sleeping. According to The Associated Press, police had a warrant to search Taylor’s apartment as part of a drug investigation, though the family’s lawsuit states the suspect in the investigation had already been detained at the time of the search. Police believed one of the suspects was using Taylor’s apartment to “receive mail, keep drugs or stash money earned from the sale of drugs,” according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The suit states Taylor and Walker believed the plainclothes police were breaking into the apartment since they entered “without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers.” A judge had signed a “no-knock” provision for the police, meaning they were able to go into Taylor’s apartment without identifying themselves, though police claim they did. Walker called 911 and shot at a police officer in what he says was self-defense. Police then fired into the apartment, hitting Taylor eight times. The suit says Taylor was unarmed and Walker had a license to carry.

Walker’s attorney wrote in a motion, “While police may claim to have identified themselves, they did not. Mr. Walker and Ms. Taylor again heard a large bang on the door. Again, when they inquired there was no response that there was police outside. At this point, the door suddenly explodes. Counsel believes that police hit the door with a battering ram.” The lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family also states that neighbors have confirmed the police did not knock or identify themselves before entering.

One officer was shot in the leg, and Walker was arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder on a police officer. He has since been released from jail on home incarceration.

The Associated Press reports that no drugs were found in the apartment, and Taylor and Walker had no prior criminal history or drug convictions.

What do we know about the case?

Taylor’s family has filed a lawsuit, accusing the officers of wrongful death, excessive force, and gross negligence, according to The Washington Post. The officers have yet to be charged, though police opened an internal investigation and placed the officers involved on administrative leave.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer released a statement on Tuesday, where he wrote: “I have spoken with [Louisville Metro Police Department] Chief Steve Conrad about this case and he is well aware of the need for a thorough investigation. Once LMPD’s Professional Integrity Unit has completed their investigation, the report will be given to the Commonwealth Attorney who will check for thoroughness and fairness before making a determination on next steps.”

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Then on Wednesday, county prosecutor Thomas Wine asked the state attorney general’s office to appoint a special prosecutor to Taylor’s case since Wine’s office is prosecuting Walker. The same day, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the local prosecutor, state attorney general, and federal prosecutor assigned to the region should review the results of the police investigation. He called reports about Taylor’s death “troubling,” according to the New York Times.

Senator Kamala Harris has also publicly called for the Department of Justice to investigate Taylor’s death.

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Louisville Metro Police Department spokeswoman Jessie Halladay has declined to comment on the case. She said in a statement to The Washington Post, “There is an ongoing public integrity investigation into this case and therefore it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time.”

What has Taylor’s family said?

In an interview with the 19th, Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer said she first found out something was wrong when she got a call from Walker, who said he thought someone was trying to break into the apartment. He then said, “I think they shot Breonna.”

“I want justice for her,” Palmer said. “I want them to say her name. There’s no reason Breonna should be dead at all.”

Palmer also told the Courier-Journal that Taylor was working on plans for her future: “She had a whole plan on becoming a nurse and buying a house and then starting a family. Breonna had her head on straight, and she was a very decent person.”

Taylor’s sister Ju’Niyah Palmer has been posting photos on social media using the hashtag #JusticeForBre. “I’m just getting awareness for my sister, for people to know who she is, what her name is,” she said. “It is literally just as equal. There’s no difference.”

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