Shooting Of Unarmed Black Woman In Kentucky Raises A Lot Of Questions

May 13, 2020
Originally published on May 13, 2020 7:52 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Today marks two months since a Louisville, Ky., woman was shot and killed in her apartment by police. The case of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, is yet another story of an African American getting killed under questionable circumstances. As Amina Elahi from member station WFPL reports, lawyers for the Taylor family are demanding answers.

AMINA ELAHI, BYLINE: When police broke down the door of Breonna Taylor's apartment in mid-March to serve a search warrant for a narcotics investigation, she and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker were asleep. It was after midnight, and they thought someone was breaking in to rob them, lawyers say. So Walker fired a shot that struck one of the police officers. All three of them fired back, and at least eight bullets hit Taylor, killing her. Walker was charged with attempting to murder a police officer, though his lawyer says he was acting in self-defense.

There's a dispute whether police identified themselves before entering. There's no footage of the incident. Police say the officers in this unit don't wear body cameras. Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, sued the officers last month. Her legal team includes Ben Crump, the prominent civil rights attorney who also represents the family of Ahmaud Arbery. Earlier today, Crump described Taylor's death as an execution.

BEN CRUMP: Black people we see - you can't walk while black. With Ahmaud, you can't jog while black, driving while black. But Breonna Taylor was sleeping while black in the sanctity of her own home.

ELAHI: The officers were put on administrative reassignment. A spokeswoman for Louisville Metro Police declined to comment this week, citing an internal investigation. Taylor's mother and her attorney still have questions about the facts of the case. They said officers obtained a so-called no-knock warrant, which doesn't fit with the police claim that they identified themselves before entering. And they said police had already arrested the primary target of the narcotics investigation by the time this group got to Taylor's home.

Sam Aguiar is a personal injury lawyer in Louisville hired by Taylor's mother. He said the police department's story doesn't add up.

SAM AGUIAR: Give me a break. It seems to me like they're just trying to cover their tracks from Day 1. And every single time, they keep saying things that conflict with former things. It really just looks like they are so desperate to cover this up, and it's why getting the truth in this case is so important.

ELAHI: Family members want answers, but they have so little trust in the department, they're not sure they'll get them. The Louisville Police Department's internal investigation could last several weeks.

For NPR News, I'm Amina Elahi in Louisville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.