In light of the recent deaths of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor and countless other black individuals, discussions are currently being held surrounding police reform on all levels of government in the United States. Many black individuals were still reeling with the February 23rd 2020 unresolved murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a 24 year old black resident of Brunswick, Georiga, when George Floyd died at the hands of police on May 25th.
While Ahmaud Arbery’s murder dates back to February, no charges were officially filed until May 7th, 74 days after video evidence circulated the internet and went viral. The Brunswick PD were criticized for their handling of the case and delay in making formal charges or arrests. Less than a month after Arbery’s murder, George Floyd died at the hands of police when an officer knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes. In between Arbery and Floyd’s death, 26 year old Breonna Taylor was killed on March 13th, while in her Louisville, Kentucky home after police conducted a no-knock raid on her apartment.
Three plainclothed Louisville Metro Police Department officers entered her apartment around 1:00am using a battering ram in what was alleged to be a drug raid. Breonna’s boyfriend at the time, a licensed gun owner, called 911 and exchanged gun-fire with the police believing they were intruders. The officers shot numerous times into the apartment resulting in Breonna being struck 8 times and subsequently dying. No drugs were found in her apartment.
As a certified EMT, Taylor worked as an ER technician with aspirations of being a nurse and was said to be full of life. Some worry that with the larger outcry and protests surrounding racial inequality and police brutality her story may be lost. Two months after her death, Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death suit stating that “the defendants sprayed gunfire into the apartment with a total disregard for human life”. The family also alleges that the warrant on Taylor’s apartment should have been called off as the primary suspect in question had already been apprehended by law enforcement.
What are No Knock Warrants?
Many ethical considerations have come to light surrounding no knock warrants in light of Breonna Taylor’s death. No knock warrants came to fruition under the Nixon administration and have primarily become used in drug crime investigations. On average 8-10 innocent people a year are killed in these no knock raids.
The Louisville Metro Council has unanimously voted to ban the use of no knock warrants. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has introduced legislation ,“The Breonna Taylor Act”, that would prohibit no-knock warrants on a national scale if passed.
While three of the officers involved have been placed on administrative reassignment, Brett Hankinson, one of the officers accused of firing blindly into the apartment, was terminated effective June 23rd from the force. In a letter to Hankinson, interim Chief Robert Schroeder states that he is “alarmed and stunned at the use of deadly force in this fashion”.
The Civil Rights division of the FBI is working with the Louisville field office on the case and can bring charges under civil rights statutes such as deprivation of rights. If charges were to be brought up and an individual is convicted they could face life in prison or the death sentence.
It’s very apparent that the fight for justice for Breonna Taylor is far from over. Protesters have been holding signs with her name and using the #SayHerName campaign on social media in an effort to keep her at the forefront of our minds. It is imperative that the momentum continue as the investigation into her death moves forward. Here’s how you can get involved.