Lawsuit: Cops Busted Into Home, Killed Sleeping Woman

Outcry over death of Breonna Taylor goes national
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2020 4:40 AM CDT
Lawsuit: Cops Busted Into Home, Killed Sleeping Woman
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / carlballou)

The police department in Louisville, Ky., was trying to execute a search warrant on March 13 when they entered the home of a sleeping woman—and she ended up dead. A lawsuit has now been filed by the family of Breonna Taylor, 26, an EMT, nurse, and ER technician. She was in the bedroom with her boyfriend, 27-year-old Kenneth Walker, both asleep, when police arrived around 12:30am. The ensuing confrontation ended with Taylor dead and Walker arrested. The details, per NBC News and the Courier-Journal:

  • The couple's story: According to the lawsuit, the officers were in plainclothes and driving an unmarked car, and the couple thought the officers were breaking in when they forced their way through the door. The suit, which cites multiple accounts from neighbors, says the officers neither knocked nor announced themselves.

  • The cops' story: The police department said officers knocked several times, "announced their presence as police who were there with a search warrant," and then "were immediately met by gunfire" when they got through the door.
  • Charges against Walker: Police say Walker called 911 and opened fire, hitting an officer. He's been charged with assault and attempted murder on a police officer. The lawsuit says he has a license to carry firearms. Supporters are calling for the charges against him to be dropped.
  • Taylor's death: "The defendants then proceeded to spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life," the lawsuit says, alleging that "more than 25 blind shots" were fired "into multiple homes." "Shots were blindly fired by the officers all throughout Breonna's home," killing her, the suit says. She was shot eight times.
  • Officers: The three officers involved have been placed on administrative reassignment pending the outcome of an investigation.
  • National headlines: Taylor's death is in the news thanks to her family's hiring of Ben Crump, the attorney who is also representing Ahmaud Arbery's family. USA Today notes Crump is a "prominent civil rights attorney with the Black Lives Matter movement"; Taylor is black.
  • What went wrong? Police were executing a narcotics warrant at the time, but the suspect had already been located and detained at his home more than 10 miles away when Taylor was shot. Taylor's name and residence were, however, also listed on the warrant because police believed the suspect used her address to get mail or hide drugs or money. Taylor and Walker have no criminal history and no drugs were found in the home. Another attorney for Taylor's family says Taylor and the suspect were friends, per WDRB. The lawsuit calls the incident a botched raid.
  • "No-knock": The warrant included a "no-knock" provision allowing officers to enter without knocking or identifying themselves.
(More Breonna Taylor stories.)

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