Breonna Taylor, an Emergency Medical Technician, would have turned 27 today, had she not been gunned down by policemen in her own home earlier this year. She was a first responder, studying to become a nurse, a healer who was murdered by people who are sworn to protect and serve.
On March 13, Breonna and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker were fast asleep in their home in Louisville, Kentucky, when members of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) allegedly barged into their home shortly after midnight. The three policemen; Johnathan Mattingly, Brett Hankinson and Myles Cosgrove, allegedly neither knocked, nor identified themselves. Walker, fearing them to be intruders fired at them and the policemen retaliated with more gunfire. The policemen fired at least 20 rounds, eight of which hit Taylor who died at the scene.
The life of a promising young woman was thus cut short. But for what? Sleeping in her own home? Or was she killed because of the color of her skin? Breonna Taylor was African-American, a hard-working young woman, who wanted nothing more than to help people heal. Shockingly, Walker was arrested soon after on charges of first-degree assault and attempt to murder police officers!
The police’s version, meanwhile, is a study in contradictions. While at one point they claimed they were executing a “no-knock” search warrant, in yet another version they claim they knocked several times and identified themselves. The latter version is disputed by Taylor and Walker’s neighbors. The search warrant meanwhile was in connection with two men who were allegedly selling drugs, one of whom, Jamarcus Glover, had previously been in a relationship with Taylor. Police alleged that he had used her home address to receive packages, a claim disputed by the Postal Inspector’s office. Interestingly, both suspects were in custody at the time of the raid.
On May 15, Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death law suit stating that the police officers were in unmarked vehicles, dressed in plainclothes and were not wearing body cameras. Taylor and Walker who were sleeping in their home at the time of the incident feared that “they were in significant and imminent danger”. Walker’s 911 call revealed that he told the operator, “someone kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend”. He was released from jail amid coronavirus concerns and on May 22 released from home incarceration. In late May, the Commonwealth’s Attorney moved to have all charges against Walker dropped.
Civil rights activist and lawyer Ben Crump is working to get justice for Breonna Taylor. He posted this tweet on Breonna’s birthday:
Meanwhile, the policemen involved had been placed on administrative reassignment pending investigation. The FBI took over investigations on May 21, the same day police chief Steve Conrad announced he would retire at the end of June, after receiving intense criticism. Protesters including Taylor’s family gathered outside the mayor’s office on May 26 demanding that the three officers involved be arrested and charged with murder. On May 29, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer placed an indefinite ban on “no-knock” warrants. On June 1, Conrad was fired from his position as police chief when it was discovered that police officers present during the fatal shooting of David McAtee, an African-American man, during the protests in Louisville in wake of the death of George Floyd, had not activated their body cameras.
Meanwhile, on her birthday, there was a huge outpouring of emotion on Twitter by friends, supporters and celebrities.
Rest in power Breonna Taylor.