Kamala Harris Calls for Federal Investigation into the Death of Breonna Taylor, EMT Shot 8 Times by Police

Nicole Rojas
May 13, 2020 - 4:25
Death of Breonna Taylor

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Breonna Taylor was sleeping peacefully next to her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when three police officers barged into her apartment, opened fire and killed her, a wrongful death lawsuit filed by her family claims. Senator Kamala Harris called for a federal investigation into Taylor’s shooting death days after her case began nabbing national headlines. 

“I’m calling for the Department of Justice to investigate #BreonnaTaylor’s death,” the California Democrat tweeted on May 13. “Her family deserves answers.” 

Harris’ call for a federal investigation comes on the heels of a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer. The lawsuit, which was filed in April in Jefferson Circuit Court, alleges wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence. 

Taylor was a decorated 26-year-old EMT worker, who enjoyed working as a part-time nurse at Norton Healthcare and as an ER technician at University of Louisville Health Jewish East. She and Walker were sleeping in their apartment on March 13 when three officers executed a search warrant, the suit states. 

Plains-clothed police in unmarked vehicles arrived at their home at around 12:30 a.m. and were searching for a suspect living in a different part of the city, according to the suit. The officers were searching for illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia as part of a narcotics investigation, according to the search warrant provided to The North Star

Taylor was mentioned in the search warrant but was not the focus of the investigation,police were instead searching for a suspect named Jamarcus Glover. The lawsuit noted that Glover had been found and detained at his home before officers executed the search warrant at Taylor’s home. No drugs were discovered in Taylor’s home.

The search warrant granted the officers a “no-knock entry” into the apartment in order to impede anyone from destroying evidence or fleeing the scene. However, after the shooting, police claimed that officers did knock on Taylor’s door several times and “announced their presence as police who were there with a search warrant.” 

That claim was disputed in the suit, which stated the officers entered the home “without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers.”

Once inside, the officers were “immediately met by gunfire,” LMPD Lt. Ted Eidem said during a March 13 press conference. However, the lawsuit claims Taylor and Walker were woken up by what they believed were intruders. The Courier-Journal reported that Walker called 911 and shot an officer. Walker had a license to carry and kept firearms for protection, the suit noted. 

“The defendants then proceeded to spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life,” the suit continued. “Shots were blindly fired by the officers all throughout Breonna’s home.” 

Taylor was shot a total of eight times and died. Her 27-year-old boyfriend was arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder on a police officer. 

“Breonna had posed no threat to the officers and did nothing to deserve to die at their hands,” the suit said. It noted that Taylor was not armed when she was killed and that neither she nor Walker had any criminal history for drugs or violence. 

A spokesman for LMPD declined to answer TNS’ questions regarding the case, citing an ongoing internal investigation. Sgt. Lamont Washington directed TNS to the department’s March 13 press conference for any comment. 

The three officers involved were identified as Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove. They were placed on administrative reassignment pending the outcome of the investigation. 

LMPD Chief Steve Conrad previously said that there is no body camera footage from the shooting available because officers in the Criminal Interdiction Division, who executed the search warrant, do not wear cameras. 

Breonna Taylor, 26, was a decorated EMT who also worked as a nurse and ER technician before she was shot and killed by three Louisville Metro Police officers. (Photo courtesy of Taylor’s family)

Case Gains National Spotlight 

The case began to gain national attention shortly after the case of Ahmaud Arbery was pushed into the national spotlight. 

Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was jogging near his Georgia home in February when he was chased down and brutally killed by two white men. Video of Arbery’s slaying prompted millions to call for his killers’ arrest. The two men, Gregory and Travis McMichael, were finally arrested 74 days after Arbery was killed. 

On May 11, Taylor’s family hired prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to join the lawsuit against LMPD and the three officers who shot and killed her. Crump, who is based in Florida, has been involved in the cases of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown Jr., Tamir Rice and, most recently, Ahmaud Arbery. 

“We stand with the family of this young woman in demanding answers from Louisville Police Department,” Crump while announcing his involvement. “Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding her death, the department has not provided any answers regarding the facts and circumstances of how this tragedy occurred, nor have they taken responsibility for her senseless killing.” 

According to The Courier-Journal, Crump joins the family’s local attorneys Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker. The lawsuit against police seeks compensatory, punitive damages and legal fees through a jury trial. 

Action Steps

  • Head to www.StandWithBre.com to sign a petition demanding justice in Breonna Taylor’s death. The petition calls on Ted Eidem and the Public Integrity Unit investigating the shooting to terminate the three officers involved. It also demands that Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine pursue charges against the officers. 
  • Call 502-735-1784 to be connected to the officials involved to demand justice. 

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.

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