Today, June 5, Breonna Taylor would have been 27 years old. But she was killed two months ago when police broke down the door to her apartment in an attempted drug sting, and shot her eight times.
On the night of March 13, police in Louisville on a drug raid forced their way into the home of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who worked as an emergency room technician. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, a licensed gun owner, woke up and grabbed his gun. According to the police, Walker then fired at them, and the police returned with a storm of at least 20 bullets, striking Taylor at least eight times, killing her.
Walker was arrested and charged with attempted murder of a police officer. Those charges have since been dismissed. He says the police beat on the door for 30 to 45 seconds without identifying themselves. He thought he and Taylor were being attacked by criminals. According to Taylor’s attorneys, these were plainclothes officers, not a trained SWAT team.
The Louisville police didn’t find any drugs. We now know that Taylor wasn’t even the person police were investigating. Their main suspect, Jamarcus Glover, and his accomplices were already in custody by the time the police raided Taylor’s home.
Taylor’s death was clearly the result of excessive police force, racial profiling, and ultimately racism. A lot has happened nationally since that day, and Taylor’s life and death have seemingly melted into the larger worldwide outcry against police violence that exploded after the death of George Floyd in late May. Furthermore, there seems to be a disparity between the outcry for the wrongful murders of Black men at the hands of police versus that of Black women. Some worry the young EMT, who was described as “full of life” and “a best friend to so many,” is being forgotten.
Here’s where her case stands:
- Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit two months after her killing, claiming charges of battery, wrongful death, excessive force, negligence and gross negligence. The no-knock warrant issued by police included Taylor’s house because, according to a police affidavit for a search warrant for the raid, authorities suspected a man involved in a drug ring was receiving packages of drugs at her home. On May 21, the FBI’s Louisville office announced they were opening an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death. Since these legal announcements, there has been little movement in Taylor’s case. The three officers involved in her shooting are still on administrative leave, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. But they have not been charged with any crimes.
- On May 21, the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department announced it would require all sworn officers to wear body cameras. The LMPD also said it would change how the department carries out search warrants in response to Taylor’s death. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the developments were the first steps the city would take toward improving police accountabilityThe same day, the LMPD’s Police Chief Steve Conrad announced he would be retiring at the end of June.However, Conrad was removed from his post on June 1 after it was discovered the officers present at the shooting death of a Black man named David McAtee during a Louisville protest did not have their body cams turned on.On June 3, Fischer announced the city of Louisville would be “issuing a request for proposal for a comprehensive, top-to-bottom review” of the LMPD, to be conducted by an external firm. The request for proposal can be viewed here.
- Taylor’s name has been heard in the recent protests spurred by the slaying of George Floyd , and some of the demonstrations have been specifically in her memory. During a protest in Louisville on May 26th featuring Taylor’s friends and family, demonstrators stood outside Mayor Greg Fischer’s house and demanded the arrest of the officers involved in her killing.This demand has been echoed and amplified online. A Change.org petition calling for justice in Taylor’s death has been promoted by influential voices like singer Janelle Monae and Bernice King, and currently holds more than 3.5 million signatures.Writer Cate Young has also called for several action items to be carried out on Taylor’s birthday, under the name #BirthdayForBreonna. They include signing the above petition, donating to legal aid funds or the GoFundMe campaign for Taylor’s family, and sending birthday cards to Kentucky’s Attorney General demanding charges in the case.
It is our duty to say Breonna Taylor’s name loudly and often; in the streets and online, so that in the roaring wave of protests, conflict, and adversity that is rising across the country, her story is not washed away. We must fight as fervently and diligently for our Black women as we have for our Black men.