Louisville Reaches $12M Settlement With Family of Breonna Taylor

Protesters participate in a march for Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., on Aug. 25, 2020. (Amy Harris/Invision/AP File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CN) — The city of Louisville has reached a settlement agreement with the estate of police shooting victim Breonna Taylor that includes a $12 million payment to Taylor’s family plus various police reforms.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed by police in her apartment six months ago after they executed a no-knock warrant in search of her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who fired a single shot at police during the incident.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has yet to conclude an investigation into the shooting, and no criminal charges have been filed against the officers. One of the three officers involved in the shooting was fired in June.  

The $12 million payout is significantly higher than Louisville’s previous settlement record, an $8.5 million sum paid in 2012 to a wrongfully imprisoned Black man.

Tamika Palmer, mother of Breonna Taylor, addresses the media in Louisville, Ky., on Aug. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Dylan Lovan)

The death of Taylor on March 13 sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests in Louisville that are ongoing, and also spurred changes in the operation of the city’s police department.

Three months after the shooting, on June 12, Mayor Greg Fischer signed “Breonna’s Law,” which bans no-knock warrants.

Fischer announced the settlement in a press conference Tuesday afternoon and detailed further changes to the operations of the Louisville Metro Police Department, including a requirement that all search warrants must be approved by police commanders before they are submitted to a judge.

The department will also provide housing vouchers to officers to encourage them to live in the communities they police, and provide paid volunteer opportunities in an effort to allow officers to become more familiar with the neighborhoods in their patrols.

Fischer also announced an increase in random drug testing for police officers, as well as increased access to personnel files and the creation of an “early warning system” to alert the city to officers who may pose a threat based on use-of-force incidents and citizen complaints.

“A financial settlement was nonnegotiable without police reform,” Lonita Baker, attorney for Taylor’s estate, said at the press conference.

Baker called the settlement’s inclusion of police reform “unheard of,” but said it “was important to us, Breonna’s family, and the attorneys involved.”

She also urged the Kentucky attorney general to bring charges against the officers involved in the shooting.

“We have faith that an indictment is coming,” Baker said.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell commended Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and said she “has shown remarkable grace and courage in the last six months.”

“Breonna Taylor’s life matters,” O’Connell said. “Breonna Taylor’s life continues to matter.”

Taylor’s family filed the wrongful death suit in April, and later amended it to include claims that the city’s efforts to arrest drug dealers in the area of Taylor’s apartment was part of a scheme to clear the area for future gentrification. Louisville has denied the allegations.

Racial and political unrest in Louisville in the wake of Taylor’s death also propelled former U.S. Senate candidate Charles Booker to the forefront of the state’s political scene when he nearly upset favorite Amy McGrath in the race for the Democratic nomination in June. Booker, a Louisville native, ultimately fell short in the primary, but has continued to amplify the voices of protesters to effect change in his hometown.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family who also represents the family of George Floyd, spoke at Tuesday’s press conference and reiterated the family’s desire for charges to be brought against the officers involved in Taylor’s shooting.

Crump demanded that charges be brought immediately and said that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

“Breonna Taylor is a light to help heal what is happening in America,” he said.

Taylor’s mother also spoke briefly at the press conference, flanked by Crump and Baker.

“We must not lose focus on what the real job is,” Palmer said as she once again urged Attorney General Cameron to arrest the officers involved. “Please continue to say her name, Breonna Taylor.”

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