Breonna Taylor (1993-2020)

Breonna Taylor's graduation photo
Courtesy Taylor family, Fair use image

Breonna Taylor, one of the most prominent victims of police violence and misconduct in 2020, was born on June 5, 1993 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was raised by her mother Tamika Palmer and her boyfriend Trory Herrod in Louisville, Kentucky. Taylor she attended local schools and graduated from Western High School, in Louisville in 2011. Taylor briefly attended the University of Kentucky, and then became an Emergency Medical Technician for the city of Louisville. She worked for Jewish East Medical Center as a full time Emergency Room Technician (ERT) and a Practicing Registered Nurse (PRN) for Norton Healthcare. Taylor desired to become a nurse, but her dreams were cut short when she was gunned down in her own home by police officers.

A narcotics investigation regarding suspected drug dealer Jamarcus Glover, led detectives to Taylor’s residence in the South End. Glover was a previous acquaintance of Taylor and she was under suspicion for using her home to his receive mail, hide his drugs, and stash monies earned from his drug sales. Taylor, who was 26, at the time, lived in a Springfield Drive apartment with her 27-year-old boyfriend Kenneth Walker. Taylor and Walker were asleep in bed, on the night of March 13, 2020, when they were awakened by a loud banging at the front door. Taylor called out, asking who was there, but heard no response. Walker, a licensed and registered gun owner, armed himself and headed towards the front door, when it suddenly came off its hinges.

Under a “no-knock” search warrant, Louisville Metro Police Department Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Detective Brett Hankinson, and Officer Myles Cosgrove, all in plainclothes, stormed into the apartment. Taylor’s boyfriend Walker, thinking this was a home invasion robbery, fired one shot in self-defense. Sgt. Mattingly was hit in the leg, and in response, the other officers opened fire, releasing more than twenty rounds into the apartment. Taylor was shot eight times and collapsed in the hallway of her apartment. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Walker was arrested for attempted homicide but was later released before all charges were dropped.

The subsequently-filed police report was nearly entirely blank or inaccurate. It stated Taylor had no injuries and that there was no forced entry. All three officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative reassignment pending the outcome of an investigation.

On May 5, 2020, Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and on May 20, investigation findings were given to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, while the FBI and US Attorney’s Office also conduct their own investigations. Police Chief Steve Conrad retired on May 21, amid criticism of his handling of Taylor’s case.

After the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, global outrage sparked, and Taylor’s name was invoked by those who called for justice in protests around the world. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer indefinitely suspended the use of “no knock” warrants on May 29, and on June 10, the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department announced that it will require all sworn officers to wear body cameras. The officers involved have not been charged.