The Louisville Metro Police Department will change its search warrant policy and officers will be required to wear body cameras in more situations after a black emergency medical worker was shot and killed by an officer in her home, city mayor Greg Fischer said Monday. Breonna Taylor, 26, was killed in March when police entered her home searching for illegal drugs.
Taylor’s family filed a lawsuit accusing the officers of wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence. Her death sparked public outcry and calls for federal intervention, according to The Associated Press.
LMPD officials said officers started shooting after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot at them first. But the lawsuit alleges that police did not identify themselves and that Walker, a licensed gun owner, thought someone was breaking in. Neither Walker nor Taylor had a criminal history of drugs or violence, the suit said, and no drugs were found during the raid.
During a livestreamed press conference, Fischer said that “no-knock” search warrants will now need a sign off from the police chief before they are sent to a judge for approval. Officers had a no-knock search warrant approved the night they executed it at Taylor’s home, Fischer said.
Despite the no-knock warrant, officers said they announced themselves at her home, according to CBS affiliate WLKY-TV — but Taylor’s family disputes that claim, citing neighbors.
“This is a step, but we know there needs to be more conversation on the use of these warrants,” the mayor said.
Fischer also announced that plainclothes units — like the one that was serving the warrant at Taylor’s home — will need to wear cameras while executing the search warrant. The new policy will apply to all officers during search warrants and other situations in which they identify themselves as police officers, according to the mayor.
Taylor had been working as an EMT at emergency rooms in two hospitals, helping with the coronavirus response, her family said. “Breonna loves life and she loved to help people and she loved her family. She didn’t deserve what they did to her,” Tamika Palmer, her mother, told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan.
“I was more concerned for her washing her hands than her dying at home,” Palmer added.
The lawsuit, obtained by CBS News, said LMPD officers Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankinson and Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly, who are named as defendants, arrived at the home in plainclothes and unmarked vehicles.
The lawsuit further alleges that “the officers then entered Breonna’s home without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers. The Defendants then proceeded to spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life.”
The lawsuit states Walker and Taylor “believed the home had been broken into by criminals and that they were in significant, imminent danger.”
Police, on the other hand, said the officers knocked on the door and announced themselves, and that when the officers forced entry they were “immediately met by gunfire.”
Mattingly was shot in the leg, police said. Walker has been charged with first degree assault and attempted murder of a police officer.
Mattingly, Cosgrove and Hankison have been placed on administrative reassignment during an internal investigation.
In announcing the new policies, Fischer said that a new work group made up of community, public safety and criminal justice leaders will explore a process for independent civilian reviews of police disciplinary matters, WLKY-TV reported.
The mayor said the measures are aimed at increasing transparency and improving the public’s trust with law enforcement, as well as building a stronger community.
“The Public Integrity investigation into this case remains ongoing, therefore it would be inappropriate for us to comment beyond what we already have said immediately following the incident,” the LMPD said in an earlier statement to WLKY-TV.
“Does the Second Amendment not apply to African Americans?” Crump said. “This was a completely unnecessary and unjustifiable killing of an innocent woman.”