The death and subsequent controversy over the death of Breonna Taylor has developed further into a lawsuit and settlement involving the Taylor family and the City of Louisville, Kentucky.
The events surrounding, leading up to, and following Breonna Taylor’s death have become major points of contention among various public and political groups around the country. Accounts of the night’s events are jumbled and often conflicting.
On March 13th, 2020 police dispatched several officers including Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankinson, and Myles Cosgrove to the home of Breonna Taylor, an emergency room technician who had previously been in a relationship with a convicted drug dealer.
Breonna Taylor was living with her current boyfriend Kenneth Walker. Police reports stated that Taylor’s residence was suspected to have been where her ex-boyfriend and an accomplice had received some packages.
The police were granted a search warrant that authorized the use of a battering ram to forcibly enter and search the premises.
Police reports from Mattingly, Hankinson, and Cosgrove claim that the officers knocked loudly and announced themselves several times before using the battering ram to force open the door. The reports then states that Officer Mattingly was hit in the leg with a bullet. In response, the officers fired 32 rounds blindly into the apartment. Taylor was hit five times. Emergency medical personnel were then called to the scene to treat Officer Mattingly’s wound.
Walker’s testimony and the testimony of several neighbors seems to refute some of the information provided by the police officers. For example, Walker states that he and Breonna Taylor were in bed when they had heard loud knocking at their door. Despite several loud attempts to find out who was at the door from both Walker and Taylor, Walker recalls getting no verbal indication of who was at their door. Fearing for their safety, Walker grabbed his shotgun and fired a warning shot, which was immediately followed by gunfire into the apartment.
The emergency medical personnel present at the scene were only informed of Taylor’s condition after Walker separately called 911 saying, “I don’t know what’s happening. Someone kicked in my door and shot my girlfriend.” Taylor received no medical attention for 20 minutes after the shooting according to a New York Times report.
Officer Hankinson was fired from his job for reckless endangerment. An investigation revealed that he had fired 10 shots into a covered patio door and a widow without a line of sight, which is against police policy. Officers Mattingly and Taylor were placed on administrative reassignment.
Walker faced criminal charges for attempted murder of a police officer. But the charges were dropped in May. Both Walker and Taylor’s family have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the City of Louisville and against the police officers responsible for the fatal incident.
In September, the Taylor family accepted a settlement of $12.1 million. That same month, the City of Louisville announced that, in accordance with the settlement’s terms, the Louisville Police Department is absolved of any medical charges and does not admit to any wrongdoing. Additionally, the Taylor family is unable to bring another lawsuit against the city.
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