City of Louisville to pay $12 million to Breonna Taylor's family

Breonna Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, filed a lawsuit against the city after her daughter was killed in a botched police raid in March. Police reforms will also be instituted as part of the settlement.

Dylan Lovan/AP
Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor's mother, speaks to the media in Louisville, Kentucky, on Aug. 13, 2020. Ms. Taylor's death in a botched police raid has sparked protests across the United States about racial justice and police reform.

The city of Louisville will pay $12 million to the family of Breonna Taylor and reform police practices as part of a lawsuit settlement reached months after Ms. Taylor’s slaying by police thrust the Black woman’s name to the forefront of a national reckoning on race, Mayor Greg Fischer announced Tuesday.

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

“I cannot begin to imagine Ms. Palmer’s pain, and I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna’s death,” Mayor Fischer said, referring to Ms. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer.

The lawsuit, filed in April by Ms. Palmer, alleged the police used flawed information when they obtained a “no-knock” warrant to enter Ms. Taylor's apartment in March. Ms. Taylor and her boyfriend were roused from bed by police, and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, has said he fired once at the officers thinking it was an intruder. Investigators say police were returning fire when they shot Ms. Taylor several times. No drugs were found at her home.

“We won’t let Breonna Taylor’s life be swept under the rug,” said Ben Crump, an attorney for Ms. Taylor’s family, on Tuesday.

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. At Tuesday’s news conference, she said, “We must not lose focus on what the real job is, and with that being said, it’s time to move forward with the criminal charges, because she deserves that and much more.”

Mr. Crump also called for charges against the officers and urged people to “say her name,” a phrase that has become a refrain for those outraged by the shooting.

The news conference was broadcast over a loudspeaker in downtown Louisville and protesters listened as they sat around a memorial to Ms. Taylor.

In the time since Ms. Taylor’s shooting, her death – along with 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 the night of the March raid, striking Ms. Taylor several times. One of the officers, Jonathan Mattingly, went into the home after the door was broken down and was struck in the leg by the gunshot from Mr. Walker.

The warrant was one of five issued in a wide-ranging investigation of a drug trafficking suspect who was a former boyfriend of Ms. 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 includes reforms on how warrants are handled by police.

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

Mayor 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 department has also fired Brett Hankison, one of the three officers who fired shots at Ms. Taylor’s apartment that night. Mr. Hankison is appealing the dismissal.

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

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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