Breonna Taylor: facts about her death explained and why her family received $12m settlement

Breonna Taylor’s family were awarded $12m by the city of Louisville

Friday, 18th September 2020, 12:11 pm
Updated Friday, 18th September 2020, 12:13 pm
Breonna Taylor was shot dead by police officers in her own home (Getty Images)
Breonna Taylor was shot dead by police officers in her own home (Getty Images)

On 25 May 2020, protests erupted in the US city of Minneapolis, following the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd by police officers.

Those protests have grown into a worldwide movement, calling for racial equality and an end to police brutality. Black Lives Matter has become the slogan of choice for demonstrators.

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Breonna Taylor - who was shot dead by police in her own home - has been a symbol of the protests since their beginning, with protestors, celebrities and sports stars all calling for justice following her death at the hands of police officers.

On 15 September, her family were awarded $12 million by the city of Louisville, but representatives of the family say that this is just the first step in delivering justice for the technician, who was 26 years old when she died. Protestors continue to call for the arrest of the police officers involved in her death.

What happened to Breonna Taylor?

Breonna Taylor was shot dead by police officers in the Kentucky city of Louisville, on 13 March 2020.

Police were carrying out a ‘no knock’ search warrant on the apartment of Taylor and her partner, Kenneth Walker. The officers involved claim that they announced their arrival, knocking several times on the apartment, while announcing their presence, though neighbours argue no such warning was issued.

During a police interrogation, Walker claimed that Taylor shouted, “Who is it?” on several occasions, but received no response. Fearing that their house was being broken into, Walker armed himself, shooting a police officer in the leg. Police returned fire, shooting Taylor eight times.

Ms Taylor didn’t receive medical attention for 20 minutes, according to the Courier Journal.

The search was carried out as part of an investigation into two drug dealers who lived far from the apartment. The police were understood to be investigating whether Taylor’s apartment was being used to receive drug packages.

Police claimed that a US postal inspector had confirmed that such packages were arriving, but postal inspector Tony Gooden has denied such claims. No drugs were found at the apartment.

What happened to the police officers?

Police Sergeant Jonathon Mattingly - the police officer shot in the leg by Mr Walker - is expected to make a full recovery. He and officer Myles Cosgrove have been placed on administrative reassignment.

Detective Brett Hankison, one of the three officers on the scene who has since been fired, shot 10 rounds aimlessly into the apartment.

So far, none of the officers face criminal charges. The Kentucky Attorney General and the FBI are currently investigating the incident.

What have Taylor’s family said about the settlement?

On 15 September, Breonna Taylor’s family were awarded $12 million dollars due to police misconduct, the largest in Louisville’s history.

Lonita Baker, a lawyer for Taylor's family, praised the settlement but said it was just one “layer” on the Taylors’ road to justice.

"Justice for Breonna is multi-layered," said Ms Baker at a press conference on Tuesday.

She said that, despite the payment, the family are still demanding the arrest of the officers involved in Breonna’s death.

"Today what we did here was to do what we could do to bring a little bit of police reform and it's just a start," said Ms Baker.

"But we finished the first mile in the marathon and we've got a lot more miles to go to until we achieve and cross that finish line."

The settlement also includes a series of police reforms in the city, including the need for a search warrant to be approved by a senior officer.