Unrest After Kentucky Cops Shoot Sleeping Black Woman to Death in Her Bed While Serving No-Knock Warrant
Breonna Taylor was a hard-working emergency room technician on the front lines in the nation’s fight against the coronavirus. On March 13, 2020, she was killed in her sleep, at home with boyfriend Kenneth Walker, during a reckless raid by Louisville Metro Police Department (“LMPD”) detectives. News reports said the detectives were serving a no-knock drug warrant intended for a residence 10 miles distant from Taylor’s apartment, although later reports said her address was included in a seperate warrant because it was believed someone at the home was suspected of accepting packages as part of a drug ring under investigation. No drugs were found in Taylor’s home.
At press time, there had been no charges in Taylor’s death, but two of the police officers involved were on administrative leave, one officer was terminated, and police Chief Steve Conrad was fired after another police-involved fatality.
The March raid began with plainclothes LMPD Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove entering Taylor’s apartment using a battering ram. They did not announce their presence or identify themselves, according to witnesses.
Walker believed their home was being invaded. He opened fire with a weapon, wounding Mattingly in the leg. Responding with gunfire, the police struck the sleeping Taylor eight times while firing 20 rounds, killing her and wounding Walker.
Walker was arrested and charged with attempting to murder a police officer. The charge was dropped.
Early reporting on the case by the Louisville Courier-Journal headlined, “LMPD officer shot, woman killed during drug investigation off St. Andrews Church Road,” drew a critique from The Nation, asking whether people read it “and thought the cop was the victim in this encounter? How many people read that and thought that Taylor was either a criminal or mixed up with criminals in some way?”
“Remember,” writes The Nation’s Elie Mystal, “that police reports are the version of events most pleasing to the police. Remember that cops will continue to kill people of color until we choose to hold them accountable.”
The Taylor family responded by hiring civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to seek redress for their daughter’s killing. Their lawsuit against the three officers is drawing national attention. Crump is also representing the families of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery in lawsuits over officer-involved deaths and took on cases for the families of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Tamir Rice.