Shortly after midnight on March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician, is shot and killed by police in her Louisville, Kentucky apartment after officers busted through her door with a battering ram.
Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, both of whom had no criminal records, had been asleep in bed. Walker, who later stated he feared an intruder had broken in, used his legally owned gun to fire one shot, which wounded Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the leg. Mattingly and officers Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison, all white and in plainclothes, returned fire, blindly shooting 32 times in the dark, striking Taylor six times.
According to The New York Times, Louisville police had received a court-approved no-knock warrant to search the apartment for signs of drug trafficking while investigating Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover. Those orders were changed to “knock and announce” before the raid, the newspaper reports. The police involved stated they complied with the warrant, but Walker said he heard no such announcement.
“Somebody kicked in the door, shot my girlfriend,” Walker told a dispatcher in a call to 911.
The three officers were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Walker was arrested for attempted murder of a police officer, a charge that was dropped May 22, as the FBI, Department of Justice and Kentucky attorney general began their own investigations, according to the Times. No drugs were found in the apartment.
Following an internal investigation, Hankison was fired by the Louisville Metro Police Department June 23 for violating procedure and was indicted by a grand jury on September 23 on three counts of wanton endangerment, as bullets he fired entered a neighboring apartment with people inside. He pleaded not guilty; in March of 2022, he was acquitted on all three counts. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron told the grand jury that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in returning fire. No charges were brought against either man.
Following Taylor’s death and subsequent national protests, including a viral social media campaign with the hashtag #SayHerName and outcries from civil rights activists and political leaders, no-knock warrants were banned in Louisville in an ordinance known as “Breonna’s Law.” The city also agreed to pay her family a historic $12 million in a wrongful-death lawsuit settlement. Following a two-year investigation, the Justice Department found a pattern of discriminatory and abusive practices in the Louisville Metro Police Department.