While the demise of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May unleashed a wave of protests throughout the nation, fury over the March 13 killing of Breonna Taylor, an African-American medical employee in Louisville, Ky., by the police additionally drove tense demonstrations in that metropolis and past.
Since the nationwide demonstrations over police brutality and systemic racism started in late May, Louisville officers have banned using no-knock warrants, which permit the police to forcibly enter individuals’s houses to go looking them with out warning, and, in late June, fired one of many officers concerned within the taking pictures.
Over the final a number of months, Ms. Taylor’s household has pleaded for justice, pushing for prison costs in opposition to the officers. Her case has drawn nationwide consideration from celebrities and athletes, who’ve participated in social media hashtag campaigns and devoted their seasons to holding a highlight on her case at the same time as different situations of police brutality spark protests. In September, Louisville officers agreed to pay $12 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit introduced by Ms. Taylor’s mom and to institute reforms aimed toward stopping future deaths by officers.
Still, critics say progress within the case has been sluggish, particularly compared with the Floyd case, the place officers have been swiftly fired and charged.
Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky legal professional basic, stated on Aug. 30 that he had acquired a ballistics report, calling it a “critical piece” of the investigation but declining to share its findings.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Kentucky state authorities are both investigating the shooting. Still, the ballistics report, though an important step forward, does not signal that the investigation is close to being over, Mr. Cameron said.
“At this point it’s bigger than Breonna, it’s bigger than just Black Lives,” Ms. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said this summer in beseeching the authorities for criminal charges. “We’ve got to figure out how to fix the city, how to heal from here.”
What happened in Louisville?
Shortly after midnight on March 13, Louisville police officers executing a search warrant used a battering ram to enter the apartment of Ms. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician.
The police had been investigating two men who they believed were selling drugs out of a house that was far from Ms. Taylor’s home. But a judge had also signed a warrant allowing the police to search Ms. Taylor’s residence because the police said they believed that one of the men had used her apartment to receive packages. Ms. Taylor had been dating that man on and off for several years but had recently severed ties with him, according to her family’s lawyer.
Ms. Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, had been in bed, but got up when they heard a loud banging at the door. Mr. Walker said he and Ms. Taylor both called out, asking who was at the door. Mr. Walker later told the police he feared it was Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend trying to break in.
After the police broke the door off its hinges, Mr. Walker fired his gun once, striking Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in a thigh. The police responded by firing several shots, striking Ms. Taylor five times. One of the three officers on the scene, Detective Brett Hankison, who has since been fired, shot 10 rounds blindly into the apartment.
Mr. Walker told investigators that Ms. Taylor coughed and struggled to breathe for at least five minutes after she was shot, according to The Louisville Courier Journal. An ambulance on standby outside the apartment had been told to leave about an hour before the raid, counter to standard practice. As officers called an ambulance back to the scene and struggled to render aid to their colleague, Ms. Taylor was not given any medical attention.
It was not until 12:47 a.m., about five minutes after the shooting, that emergency personnel realized she was seriously wounded, after her boyfriend called 911.
“I don’t know what’s happening,” Mr. Walker said on a recorded call to 911. “Someone kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.”
Ms. Taylor received no medical attention for more than 20 minutes after she was struck, The Courier Journal reported, citing dispatch logs.
The Jefferson County coroner told The Courier Journal that Ms. Taylor most likely died less than a minute after she was shot and could not have been saved.
While the department had received court approval for a “no-knock” entry, the orders were changed before the raid to “knock and announce,” meaning that the police had to identify themselves.
The officers have said they did announce themselves, but Mr. Walker said he did not hear anything.
No drugs were found in the apartment, a lawyer for Mr. Walker said.
Jamarcus Glover, Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend whose alleged packages led the police to her door that night, was arrested on Aug. 27 in possession of drugs, according to a charging document. He told The Courier Journal that Ms. Taylor had no involvement in the drug trade. “The police are trying to make it out to be my fault and turning the whole community out here, making it look like I brought this to Breonna’s door,” he said.
Ms. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said her daughter had had big dreams and planned a lifelong career in health care after serving as an E.M.T.
“She was a better version of me,” said Ms. Palmer, a dialysis technician. “Full of life. Easy to love.”
“Breonna was a woman who was figuring everything out in her life, who had turned a corner,” said Sam Aguiar, a lawyer representing Ms. Taylor’s family. “Breonna was starting to live her best life.”
Why did the police fire their weapons?
The Louisville police say that they fired inside Ms. Taylor’s home only after they were first fired upon by Mr. Walker, Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend. They said that Mr. Walker wounded one of the officers, who was hit in the leg but was expected to make a full recovery. Mr. Walker was subsequently charged with attempted murder of a police officer, though the charge was dismissed in May.
The police also assert that they knocked several times and identified themselves as police officers with a warrant before entering the apartment. Mr. Walker has said he and Ms. Taylor heard aggressive banging at the door and asked who it was, but they did not hear an announcement that it was the police.
The police said that the officers “forced entry into the exterior door and were immediately met with gunfire.” The officers returned fire, the police said.
One of the officers, Mr. Hankison, was fired. The other officers involved in the case — Mr. Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove — have been placed on administrative reassignment. None of the officers face criminal charges.
The Kentucky attorney general, Mr. Cameron, is now leading the investigation. The F.B.I. is also investigating.
Mr. Hankison appealed his firing, but a hearing for the case has been delayed pending the completion of a criminal investigation.
Is the police account disputed?
Yes, hotly. Ms. Taylor’s relatives and their lawyers say that the police never identified themselves before entering — despite their claims. They also say that Mr. Walker was licensed to carry a gun.
And Mr. Walker, 27, has said that he feared for his life and fired in self-defense, believing that someone was trying to break into the home.
“He didn’t know these were police officers, and they found no drugs in the apartment — none,” said Rob Eggert, Mr. Walker’s lawyer. “He was scared for his life, and her life.”
In a 911 call just after the shots were fired, Mr. Walker told a dispatcher that “somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.”
The police’s incident report contained multiple errors. It listed Ms. Taylor’s injuries as “none,” even though she had been shot several times, and indicated that officers had not forced their way into the apartment — though they used a battering ram to break the door open.
Ms. Taylor’s family also said it was outrageous that the police felt it necessary to conduct the raid in the middle of the night. Their lawyers say the police had already located the main suspect in the investigation by the time they burst into the apartment. But they “then proceeded to spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life,” according to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Ms. Taylor’s mother.
There was no body camera footage from the raid. And, for now, prosecutors have said they had dismissed the charges against Mr. Walker, adding that they would let investigations into the killing run their course before making any final decisions. Some legal experts said the fact that prosecutors dropped charges after a grand jury indictment suggested that they may have doubts about the version of events told by the police.
Has there been other fallout?
Some — even aside from the continuing protests.
On June 23, the Louisville Metro Police Department released a letter of termination that it sent to Mr. Hankison, the former officer who “blindly fired” 10 rounds into a covered patio door and a window, according to the termination letter.
Chief Robert Schroeder accused Mr. Hankison of violating the Police Department’s policy on use of deadly force, saying his actions were “a shock to the conscience” that discredited the Police Department.
Also, city officials banned the use of no-knock warrants on June 11.
Mayor Greg Fischer has announced other changes to ensure “more scrutiny, transparency and accountability,” including the naming of a new police chief; a new requirement that body cameras always be worn during the execution of search warrants; and the establishment of a civilian review board for police disciplinary matters.
How has social media reacted?
On June 5, what would have been Ms. Taylor’s 27th birthday, many people used the hashtag #SayHerName to remember her and raise awareness about her case.
“Her life was tragically taken by police and we will not stop marching for justice until it’s served for her and her family. #SayHerName,” Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, tweeted on June 5.
Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, said on Twitter that Ms. Taylor’s life was “horrifically” taken by officers. “Keep up the calls for justice. #SayHerName,” Ms. Harris wrote.
The “Say Her Name” movement also brings awareness to other Black women whose similar stories may not have garnered as much national attention, including Tanisha Anderson and Atatiana Jefferson.
“‘Say Her Name’ attempts to make the death of Black women an active part of this conversation by saying their names,” Kimberlé Crenshaw, an activist and creator of the hashtag, told ABC. “If Black lives really do matter, all Black lives have to matter. That means Black lives across gender have to be lifted up.”
On July 30, for the first time in 20 years, Oprah Winfrey did not appear on the cover of O: The Oprah Magazine, which instead featured Ms. Taylor with a digital portrait drawn by the young artist Alexis Franklin.
In an essay about her decision to shine a spotlight on Ms. Taylor’s case, Ms. Winfrey said she thought about her often.
“What I know for sure: We can’t be silent,” she said. “We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice.”
W.N.B.A. players have also used their platform to bring attention to Ms. Taylor’s case. This season is dedicated to her, and players have been wearing jerseys bearing her name.
“Having Breonna Taylor on the back of my jersey means so much more,” said Kristine Anigwe, a Los Angeles Sparks player, in an interview with The New York Times. “I can’t take anything for granted. I have to go there and play like it’s my last game because she did not know that would be the last day she would live. She thought she was safe in her own home.”
Will Wright, Sarah Mervosh, Lucy Tompkins, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Rukmini Callimachi and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.