Six months after the night Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police officers, city officials have agreed to pay her family $12 million as part of a wrongful death settlement.
The settlement of the lawsuit brought by Taylor’s family was announced Tuesday by the family’s legal team and city officials. In addition to the multi-million-dollar settlement, the city of Louisville has agreed to institute a number of reforms to the city’s policing tactics.
The changes include imposing more scrutiny on officers during the execution of search warrants. The settlement will also make safeguards that should have been followed by officers, mandatory.
Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep the night of March 13 when Louisville Metro Police barged into her home with a no-knock warrant in relation to a drug investigation. The noise woke Taylor, who believed someone was trying to break-in. Walker, who is a registered gun owner, fired a shot toward their bedroom door.
The police responded, firing a bevy of shots toward the couple and hitting Taylor five times. One of the three officers who fired shots at Taylor has been fired for displaying “an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired 10 rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor,” according to the officer’s termination letter, which was posted to the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Twitter account.
Taylor’s death and George Floyd’s, who was killed by Minneapolis police in May, kicked off a summer of nationwide protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement as well calls to defund the police in many states and reallocate funds into social services.
Both the former first lady Michelle Obama and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris called out Taylor’s name at the Democratic National Convention last month. Oprah Winfrey erected dozens of billboards demanding justice, WNBA players have placed her name on their jerseys, and 2020 U.S. Open Champion Naomi Osaka wore the name of Taylor and other Black victims of police brutality on her face masks in her pre- and post-match interviews.
Many are still waiting to see if charges will be brought against the three officers who shot Taylor.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced last week that he will present Taylor’s case before a Louisville grand jury at an undisclosed location. According to the Times, however, since the officers were fired upon first, legal experts say their actions may be protected under a state statute allowing officers to use lethal force as self-defense.
Once the grand jury decides if the case will go forward, Cameron will make a public announcement to share his office’s investigative findings and the grand jury’s decision on possible indictments for the three officers who fired their weapons that night.
Ben Jealous, president of People For the American Way said the settlement was pertinent but that does not mean the issue has been finalized.
“Today’s civil settlement between the city of Louisville, Kentucky, and Breonna Taylor’s family is appropriate and necessary in the pursuit of justice, but no amount of money can replace the life of a loved one. While police reforms are included in the settlement, justice has not been fully served because the police officers who killed Breonna remain free. Those officers must be criminally charged and banned from law enforcement. We believe all communities deserve to be safe and Breonna Taylor deserves justice.”