When George Floyd, 46, was murdered by four police officers in Minneapolis, MN, the effect caused a shockwave impact throughout the nation. As a result, the American public has begun calling out the state and national government, police, and elected officials to eradicate the common occurrences of racially based crimes within America’s justice systems. But before George Floyd’s life was unjustly taken, Breonna Taylor, 26, faced the same fate just two months previously.
Just after midnight on March 13, 2020, Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove used a ram on the door of Breonna Taylor’s apartment to enter her home where she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, lay asleep. Upon hearing the loud banging on their front door, the pair woke up. After a brief exchange between Taylor, Walker, and the three officers on the scene, Walker fired his gun resulting in the police firing multiple shots striking Taylor eight times. According to The Louisville Courier Journal, Mr. Walker told the investigators that Taylor “coughed and struggled to breathe for at least five minutes after she was shot” and did not receive medical attention for over twenty minutes, which is supported by dispatch logs. The Jefferson County Coroner reported that Ms. Taylor could not have been saved as she “most likely died less than a minute after she was shot”.
Taylor, 26, was an emergency medical technician from Louisville, Kentucky who was shot by three officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department, while she was asleep in her home on the night of March 13th. Outraged at the atrocity of the officers’ actions, the people of Louisville, and eventually the rest of the country, took to the streets to protest in her honor, holding demonstrations that pushed Louisville officials to ban no-knock warrants; a lawful practice which allows the forcible entrance by police into people’s homes in order to search without warning. On June 23rd, Louisville Metro PD fired Brett Hankison, one of the officers involved in the shooting.
The police believed that two men, who the department was actively investigating for dealing drugs, had been using Ms. Taylor’s apartment to receive packages, although they lived far from her home. However, Walker’s lawyer reports that there were no drugs found in the home. One of the officers, wounded by Mr. Walker was shot in the leg and is expected to make a full recovery. Walker was later charged with the attempted murder of a police officer, although the charge was dropped back in May. Meanwhile the officers who took part in the murder of Ms. Taylor have not faced any criminal charges; two of the officers were reassigned by the administration, even though they remain on the force.
Breonna Taylor’s lawyers say that the law enforcement officials never identified themselves upon entering the home, despite the officers’ claims that they did. Kenneth Walker was licensed to carry a gun and fired his weapon believing the apartment was being robbed: “He didn’t know these were police officers and there were no drugs in the apartment – none. He was scared for her life and his life,” said Walker’s lawyer, Robert Eggert. The incident report also consists of many falsities and incorrect claims, such as listing Taylor’s injuries as “none”, even though she was shot eight times before bleeding to death. It also stated that the officers did not force their way into the apartment, even though a battering ram was used on the front door to break it open.
Breonna Taylor was a young woman with a bright future. According to her mother, Tamika Palmer, her daughter planned to have a long and fulfilling career in healthcare after working as an EMT; She wished to become a nurse, buy a home, and start her very own family. Palmer described her daughter as a “very decent person” who “had her head on straight”. ‘Justice for Breonna’, which serves as the motto behind the campaign made in her honor, is close to finding closure, due to the recently-opened FBI investigation led by Attorney General, Daniel Cameron. Her impact in her community will live on as she continues to rest in power.