Breonna Taylor’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit Settled for 12 Million
The city of Louisville, Kentucky, has agreed to pay $12 million to the family of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was killed in her home by police.
Breonna Taylor was 26 when she was shot at least five times on 13 March during a mistaken drugs raid.
The black woman’s name has featured prominently in anti-racism protests in recent months.
Lonita Baker, a lawyer for Breonna Taylor’s family, called the settlement just one “layer” in the effort to seek justice, and praised new police reforms.
“Justice for Breonna is multi-layered,” she said at a press conference on September 15 alongside Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
She called the agreement “tremendous, but only a portion” of what the family hopes for, including the arrest of the officers involved in her death.
“Today what we did here was to do what we could do to bring a little bit of police reform and it’s just a start,” continued Leonita Baker.
“But we finished the first mile in the marathon and we’ve got a lot more miles to go to until we achieve and cross that finish line.”
The settlement includes a series of police reforms in Louisville, including a requirement that all search warrants be approved by a senior officer and giving a housing credit to officers who move to low income neighborhoods they patrol in the city.
In a short statement, Breonna Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer called for criminal charges against the officers and asked people to continue to say her daughter’s name publicly in advocacy for police reforms.
The settlement is the largest financial sum paid in a police misconduct case in Louisville’s history, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.
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Breonna Taylor’s killing was propelled into the spotlight once again with the death George Floyd, an African-American man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May.
George Floyd’s death sparked global anti-racism protests and brought renewed focus on police brutality.
Shortly after midnight on March 13, three officers entered Breonna Taylor’s apartment by executing a no-knock search warrant – a court document that authorizes police to enter a home without warning.
Breonna Taylor and her partner, Kenneth Walker, were reportedly asleep as the commotion began.
The officers exchanged fire with Kenneth Walker, a licensed gun owner who called 911 in the belief that the drug raid was a burglary. The officers – who fired more than 25 bullets – said they returned fire after one officer was shot and wounded.
During the exchange, Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician, was shot eight times and later died.
No drugs were found on the property.
The lawsuit filed by Breonna Taylor’s family accuses the officers of battery, wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence. It also says the officers were not looking for her or her partner, but for an unrelated suspect who did not live in the complex.
Breonna Taylor’s family has also accused police of leading the raid as a plot to gentrify her neighborhood. Louisville’s mayor dismissed the allegation as “outrageous” and “without foundation or supporting facts”.
One of the officers involved in the raid, Brett Hankison, was fired in June. The other two – Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove – were placed on administrative leave.
Louisville’s police chief was also fired in June after a separate police shooting.
A grand jury could soon decide whether criminal charges should be filed against any of the officers.
Until Freedom, a social justice organization that has held rallies for Breonna Taylor, released a statement saying: “No amount of money will bring back Breonna Taylor.”
“True justice is not served with cash settlements,” the group added.
“We need those involved in her murder to be arrested and charged. We need accountability. We need justice.”
Earlier this year, Louisville’s city council voted unanimously in favor of banning no-knock warrants. Similar legislation that would ban the warrants nationwide was introduced in the Congress.