A Kentucky community is left looking for answers two months after police shoot and kill a Black woman in her home.
According to published reports, Breonna Taylor, an EMT worker, was fatally shot and killed in her home while sleeping after officers with the Louisville Metro Police Department executed a search warrant at the wrong home.
In a lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family, the family states that three Kentucky police officers, Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove, forced their way inside Breonna’s home while she was asleep and “blindly fired” in the residence killing her.
The Kentucky Police Department denies the family’s recollection of what happened that night, instead stating that officers at the time claimed they knocked on the door several times before “announcing their presence as police who were there with a search warrant.” Police state it was then that the officers forced their way in through the door and “were immediately met by gunfire,” Lt. Ted Eidem said at a press conference in March.
Despite the incident occurring on March 13, the killing garnered little attention until the death of 25-year old Ahmaud Arbery, the black man in Georgia who died on Feb. 23 after being pursued and shot by two white men, broke. Now the Taylor family has hired Ben Crump, who is also handling the Arbery case, to join Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker in representing the family and to help with their fight for justice.
“We stand with the family of this young woman in demanding answers from the Louisville Police Department,” Attorney Ben Crump said in a statement Monday on Twitter, before calling out the police department for not taking responsibility and not providing “any answers regarding the facts and circumstances of how this tragedy occurred.”
The lawsuit filed by attorneys on behalf of Breonna Taylor’s family states that Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep in the bedroom when police in plain clothes and unmarked vehicles arrived at the house around 12:30 a.m. looking for a suspect who lived in a different part of the city and was already in police custody.
The suit goes on adding that the three officers then entered Taylor’s home “without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers,” waking up Taylor and Walker who thought criminals were breaking in. Walker called 911 and, according to The Courier-Journal, police said he opened fire and shot an officer. It was then that the officers on the scene began firing off rounds in the house, shooting an unarmed Breonna eight times, killing her. Walker, 27, was arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder on a police officer.
“The defendants then proceeded to spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life,” the lawsuit alleges. “Shots were blindly fired by the officers all throughout Breonna’s home. Breonna had posed no threat to the officers and did nothing to deserve to die at their hands. Neither of the two had any criminal history for drugs or violence,” the suit states. No drugs were found in the home.
Ballistic evidence from the scene show that police fired more than 25 shots in Taylor’s home, a point the lawsuit urges shows the officers failed to use sound judgment during the raid.
“The officers failed to use any sound reasonable judgment whatsoever when firing more than 25 blind shots into multiple homes and causing the wrongful death of Breonna,” according to the suit.
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, filed the lawsuit in April in Jefferson Circuit Court alleging wrongful death, excessive force, and gross negligence.
Although the police officers are refusing to comment on the case further at this time “due to a pending investigation”, Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher commented on the horrific event stating that he plans to ensure that justice is served.
“As always, my priority is that the truth comes out and for justice to follow the path of truth,” Mayor Fisher said in a statement via Twitter. “The Breonna Taylor case is currently under investigation. Therefore, expansive comments are not appropriate until all the facts are fully known.”
All three officers involved were placed on administrative reassignment pending the outcome of an investigation.