Louisville to pay millions to Breonna Taylor’s mother and reform police

15 September 2020, 16:24

Breonna Taylor
Breonna Taylor. Picture: PA

The black woman was shot dead by police at her apartment.

The city of Louisville will pay millions of dollars to the mother of Breonna Taylor and reform police practices as part of a lawsuit settlement, months after Ms Taylor’s killing by police thrust the black woman’s name to the forefront of a national reckoning on race.

A source told the Associated Press it would be the largest sum paid by the city for a police misconduct case.

Ms Taylor’s death sparked months of protests in Louisville and calls nationwide for the officers to be criminally charged. State attorney general Daniel Cameron is investigating police actions in the March 13 fatal shooting.

The lawsuit, filed in April by Ms Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, alleged police used flawed information when they obtained a “no-knock” warrant to enter the 26-year-old’s apartment in March. She was roused from her bed before being shot several times, and police found no drugs at her home.

Tamika Palmer addresses the media in Louisville
Tamika Palmer addresses the media in Louisville (Dylan Lovan/AP)

Ms Palmer has said she is trying to be patient about the results of Mr Cameron’s criminal investigation and the long wait, which is now six months since her daughter’s death.

In that time, her daughter’s death — along with that of George Floyd and others — has become a rallying cry for protesters seeking a reckoning on racial justice and police reform.

High-profile celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and LeBron James have called for the officers to be charged in Ms Taylor’s death.

Ms Palmer’s lawsuit accused three Louisville police officers of blindly firing into Ms Taylor’s apartment, striking her several times.

Ms Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was in the apartment with her and fired a single shot that struck an officer in the leg. He said he did not hear police announce themselves and he thought he was guarding against an intruder.

A rally in honour of Ms Taylor
A rally in honour of Ms Taylor (Timothy D Easley/AP)

The warrant was one of five issued in a wide-ranging investigation of a drug trafficking suspect who was a former boyfriend of Mr Taylor’s. That man, Jamarcus Glover, was arrested at a different location about 10 miles away from Ms Taylor’s apartment on the same evening.

The settlement will include reforms on how warrants are handled by police. The city of Louisville is expected to announce the details later.

The city has already taken some reform measures, including passing a law named for Taylor that bans the use of no-knock warrants. Police typically use them in drug cases over concern that evidence could be destroyed if they announce their arrival.

Mayor Greg Fischer fired former police chief Steve Conrad in June and last week named Yvette Gentry, a former deputy chief, as the new interim police chief. Ms Gentry would be the first black woman to lead the force of about 1,200 sworn officers.

The largest settlement previously paid in a Louisville police misconduct case was 8.5 million dollars in 2012, to a man who spent nine years in prison for a crime he did not commit, according to news reports.

By Press Association