Posted on September 15, 2020

Breonna Taylor: Louisville Officials Agree to Pay Family $12M

Tom McCarthy and Miranda Bryant, The Guardian, September 15, 2020

The city of Louisville, Kentucky, has reached a $12m settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor in a civil suit stemming from the fatal shooting by police of the 26-year-old inside her apartment in March, according to reports.

City officials have agreed to pay Taylor’s family $12m, according to the New York Times, which would be one of the highest such payments in a police killing in years.

The civil rights lawyer Ben Crump said there would be a “major update” in the case at 2pm ET Tuesday at the Louisville mayor’s office.

Separately, a grand jury could soon be asked to weigh charges in a potential criminal case against three officers involved in the shooting. Local prosecutors have come in for heavy criticism for the long delay.

Sunday marked six months since Taylor’s death at the hands of police on 13 March, prompting months of demonstrations in Louisville and nationally, against the backdrop of widespread Black Lives Matter protests.

Taylor, a Black medical worker, was killed in a post-midnight police raid of her apartment, where she was with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Witnesses said police did not identify themselves before entering, and Walker fired on them.

One of the officers involved in the raid, which was connected to a drug investigation, was fired in June. That month, the city banned the use of no-knock search warrants.

Brett Hankinson was terminated for “wantonly and blindly” firing 10 rounds into the apartment, according to his termination letter. Police said none of the three officers who took part in the raid were wearing body cameras.

In addition to a monetary settlement, the agreement between the city and the Taylor family includes multiple policing reforms, according to reports, including a requirement that commanders approve all search warrants before they go to a judge.

The agreement is expected to be a “multimillion-dollar settlement”, CNN reported.

The largest previous settlement by Louisville in connection with police misconduct was an $8.5m payment for wrongful imprisonment to a man who was convicted after an officer committed perjury at trial, the Courier Journal said.

Attorney Sam Aguilar confirmed that a settlement had been reached, telling CNN: “The city’s response in this case has been delayed and it’s been frustrating, but the fact that they’ve been willing to sit down and talk significant reform was a step in the right direction and hopefully a turning point.”

Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, who was appointed special prosecutor on the case earlier this year, is expected to announce a charging decision soon. The FBI has also opened an investigation.

But Cameron has declined to specify a date, tweeting last week: “My office is continually asked about a timeline regarding the investigation into the death of Ms Breonna Taylor. An investigation, if done properly, cannot follow a specific timeline.”

Louisville’s police chief, Steve Conrad, was fired after a separate incident in June, when officers who killed restaurant owner David McAtee did not activate body cameras.