On March 13 in Louisville, Kentucky, police entered the home of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, after midnight and opened fire, killing her. Taylor’s family is now filing a lawsuit against the officers for wrongful death, excessive force, and gross negligence. The police had a warrant to search Taylor’s apartment but were searching for a man who lived in a different part of the city, and who had been apprehended by the police department the day before.
According to the family’s lawsuit, the police officers “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”. Taylor was shot eight times.
One of the lawyers representing Taylor’s mother is Benjamin Crump, who also represents the family of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was murdered by two white men in Georgia in February.
Crump stated, “they executed this innocent woman because they botched the search warrant execution…They had the main person that they were trying to get in their custody, so why use a battering ram to bust her door down and then go in there and execute her?”
Crump reported that though there are many differences between the cases of Arbery and Taylor, both of whom were Black, in both cases widespread attention came months after the victim was killed. In the case of Arbery, it was not until a graphic video gained viral attention on social media that his murderers were arrested and charged.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, “has been charged with the attempted murder of a police officer” after returning fire on an officer and shooting him in the leg, believing that the officers were intruders. Walker had called 911 when he saw the police enter, as they were dressed in plain clothes and arrived in unmarked cars, and he believed that he and Taylor “were in significant, imminent danger”.
Although parties are disputing whether or not the police knocked before entering, the use of “no-knock” warrants created calamitous results in the past. Last year, the Houston Police Department announced that it would largely end the practice when two civilians were killed and four police officers injured in one raid.
Sources: New York Times 5/14/20; CBS News 5/15/20; Feminist Newswire 5/11/20; New York Times 2/29/19