By Victoria Vidales
On September 23rd, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that no police officers would be charged in the killing of 26 year old Breonna Taylor. An African American woman, Taylor was killed in late March following a violent shooting by Louisville police officers. Both innocent, and unarmed, Taylor’s death has been met with intense national protests regarding continued calls of police brutality inflicted onto African Americans.
Investigations have determined that on March 23rd, Louisville Police Department officers entered Taylor’s apartment allegedly to search the premises for evidence against two men involved in drug related crimes. One of the men, Jamarcus Glover, had a romantic relationship with Taylor a few years before, however, the two remained friends. Taylor’s family claims Taylor recently severed the friendship. Taylor was never accused, nor suspected of any involvement in criminal activity.
Various news outlets have reported that, upon entering the apartment, the officers immediately responded to a single gunfire shot from Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend. According to public statements, Walker claimed that the two, he and Taylor, were asleep when they were awakened by loud noises. Walker recounts that both he and Taylor called out to the individuals, however, they did not receive responses.
Fearing a home invasion, Walker, who is a legal gun owner, claims that he fired a single gunshot in the direction of the noises. As a result, the officers returned intense fire, shooting Taylor, who was unarmed, five times. Walker, the intended target, was never hit. Walker then called 911 telling the operator that Taylor was injured, and that he believed someone had broken into their home. Investigators have determined that Walker’s shot hit Sergeant Jonathon Mattingly in the leg.
Following the shooting, Walker was taken into custody, while Taylor lied on the floor without medical attention.
The actions of the LMPD regarding the outcome of that night have been under intense scrutiny, debate, and criticism from legal professionals, and the American public. According to reports from The New York Times, and public statements from Attorney General Cameron, three officers were involved in the fatal shooting, each to varying degrees. Sergeant Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove have been determined to have fired the bullets that killed Taylor. It has been determined from an investigation that the officers engaged 32 rounds of fire into the apartment. Reports have also concluded that Detective Brett Hankinson fired several shots into the window, and patio door of Taylor’s apartment. Some of the bullets fired by Hankinson entered into a neighbors home.
During a press conference, Attorney General Cameron concluded that charges would not be filed against Sergeant Mattingly and Detective Cosgrove who shot Taylor for her death, claiming that since Walker fired first, the officers were not responsible for the shooting. Detective Hankinson’s actions resulted in his dismissal from the department due to “wanton endangerment,” however, this is not for the endangerment of Taylor but of the three neighbors whose apartment his shots entered.
Whether the officers announced themselves before entering the apartment remains under further confusion. Walker claims that he never heard the officers announce who they were before entering the apartment. Excerpts from his 911 call support his claims. The officers involved claimed that they did identify who they were before entering the apartment, however, most neighbors have not been able to corroborate that claim.
The issue of the warrant has also come under fire. The New York Times reported that the warrant was specifically changed from a no-knock warrant, to a knock and search warrant. If officers did not announce themselves before entering the residence they were in violation of the warrant. Investigators have also determined that Taylor did not receive medical attention for over 20 minutes after the shooting. Walker claims that Taylor remained alive briefly during this time.
Taylor’s family reportedly settled with the city of Louisville for 12 million dollars from a wrongful death suit they filed on May 15th.
Taylor joins the list of so many unarmed African Americans who have been killed by law enforcement. From the recent killing of George Floyd, to the six year old shooting of 17 year old Trayvon Martin, unarmed African Americans have continuously been subjected to unspeakable violence at the hands of law enforcement. Taylor was a young medical technician, with so much more life to live. Although the pursuit of justice for her remained strong, Attorney General Cameron shattered all hope. Taylor’s death has not only been called a tragedy, but a continued form of injustice.
Victoria Vidales '21,