In the span of 2.5 months, two Louisville, Kentucky residents were killed by local police. On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor, an EMT who also wanted to be a nurse, was shot and killed during a botched raid on her home. On June 1, just after midnight, the well-known owner of YaYa’s BBQ David McAtee, was killed by Louisville police during a protest demanding justice for the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Floyd’s death sparked outrage and protests across the country, and renewed calls for justice in the case of Taylor, whose shooting death had received little national attention. The night of Taylor’s death, police in plainclothes executed a no-knock warrant on Taylor’s home, targeting two men suspected of selling drugs from a house 10 miles away. The police put a battering ram through the apartment door, prompting Taylor’s partner Kenneth Walker to pick up his gun and fire a shot that hit an officer in the leg. The police fired more than 20 shots, killing Taylor with eight rounds. Despite violating department policy and not wearing body cams at the time of the raise, officers involved were not fired or charged. Instead, they were placed on administrative duty pending an investigation of the incident. All three officers – Sgt. Jon Mattingly, and Detectives Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison – had previously been sanctioned for violating department policies. Hankison is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit for planting drugs on suspects. Cosgrove was sued for use of excessive force in 2006 by a man he shot seven times during a traffic stop. However, the charges were dropped and Cosgrave returned to the department.
Like other cities, Louisville residents who have experienced unwarranted police brutality are demanding sweeping police reforms. After mounting community pressure, Kentucky officials took steps toward reforming police department culture and tactics. Charges against Kenneth Walker were dropped, and a transcript of his 911 call were released to the public. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer suspended no-knock warrants, issued a requirement that officers have their body cams on, and fired Police Chief Steve Conrad. Fischer also announced the creation of a Civilian Review Board. Governor Andy Beshaer has called for a full review of the local police department case by the state attorney general, the local prosecutor, and federal prosecutor. The FBI has opened an investigation into Taylor’s death.
However, more remains to be done, and community groups are still demanding justice. Major demands include:
- Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, and the City Council address the use of force by Louisville Metro Police Department.
- Immediately fire and revoke the pensions of the officers that murdered Breonna Taylor. Arrest, charge, and convict them for this crime.
- Ensure the newly requested special prosecutor, State Attorney General Daniel Cameron, seeks full transparency and accountability.
- Provide all necessary information to a local, independent civilian community police accountability council #CPAC.
- Create policies to ensure transparent investigation processes.
- Support the Louisville Community Bail Fund, which provides bail and legal support for activists in Louisville. Its mission is not only to bail people out of jail, but also provide post-release aid.
- Help Grassroots Law Project to pass a legislation called Breonna’s Law that would effectively ban “no-knock” raids. The law is being voted on by council members on the Louisville Metro Council Public Safety Committee.
- Sign petitions here and here to demand justice for Taylor’s death.
Find information on how to contact Mayor Fischer and the Louisville Metro Police Department here.