It’s been one year since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in a barrage of bullets fired by police officers in her Louisville, Kentucky, home.
Despite months of raucous protests, a grand jury indictment and new legislation activists say, to this day, there still has been no justice.
Linda Sarsour, co-founder of the social justice organization Until Freedom, which planned rallies for Taylor in Louisville, said justice will come when the three officers involved in the botched raid are finally charged.
“What needs to be done is that the police officers who murdered her have to be held accountable,” Sarsour told ABC News. “If one Black woman doesn’t get justice in Louisville, Kentucky, after being murdered in the way that Breonna was, then I don’t know if we’ll ever get justice for any other Black woman in America.”
On the fateful morning of March 13, 2020, Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician, was asleep in her apartment with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when three plainclothes officers — Myles Cosgrove, Brett Hankinson and Jonathan Mattingly — barged into her home on a no-knock warrant.
Taylor was struck by five bullets, the coroner’s report said, according to The Associated Press.
One year on, “Say Her Name” has become a thunderous rallying cry at protests across the country denouncing racism and police brutality — and this week protesters once again returned to the streets to demand accountability.
A year of reforms and legal challenges
Louisville, a city of about 618,000, has seen slow changes in wake of her death.
In June, the Louisville Metro City Council passed “Breonna’s Law,” which banned no-knock warrants, and in September Taylor’s family won a stunning $12 million settlement from the city.
Mayor Greg Fischer and the city council also introduced measures to reform the Louisville Metro Police Department, including instating a new police chief, requiring body cameras for serving search warrants and establishing a civilian review board for police disciplinary issues.
But for many, the crux of justice lies with the three officers involved in the Taylor’s shooting.
Hankison and Cosgrove were fired from the LMPD in June and January, respectively, but Mattingly is still employed.
In September, a Kentucky grand jury sparked outrage when it decided to indict only Hankison, on three counts of wanton endangerment. The charges against Hankison stemmed from bullets that penetrated a wall of Taylor’s residence and entered a neighboring apartment, according to the attorney general. He pleaded not guilty.
Neither he nor the other two officers involved in the fatal encounter were charged in Taylor’s death.
The decision renewed tension in the city. In an unprecedented move, two jury members anonymously came forward to say they were never presented with homicide charges against the officer and asked for records of the proceedings to be released. Attorney General Daniel Cameron conceded that prosecutors did not recommend homicide charges to the grand jury.
Still, hope prevails in Kentucky.
A federal investigation into potential civil rights violations is underway. That probe has expanded to include the warrant that sent police to Taylor’s door, which was not part of Cameron’s criminal investigation, per the AP.
Ben Crump, the lawyer who represents Taylor’s family, said her case sets a precedent for justice for all Black women.
“We have to also remember the progress we’ve made for Black women in America — that’s the legacy of Breonna Taylor,” Crump told ABC News. “We have to remember that Black women matter too.”
On Monday, a Kentucky judge dismissed a charge of attempted murder of a police officer against Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend. In the raid, Walker, a licensed gun carrier with no criminal record, thought someone was breaking into the home, grabbed his gun and fired a single shot that hit Mattingly in the leg.
The Kentucky state House is preparing to vote on a statewide bill that will limit the use of no-knock warrants. The bill, sponsored by GOP Senate President Robert Stivers, was passed in the state Senate unanimously on Feb. 25.
State Rep Attica Scott, a Louisville Democrat who was teargassed and arrested during summer protests for Taylor, told ABC News that she had introduced her own bill back in August banning no-knock warrants altogether, but it was never voted on. She’s working with Stivers to amend the bill to include stipulations such as having an ambulance present for these warrants.
She said she was “disappointed” it took months get this bill on the table and admitted there has been “little to no police reforms in Louisville or Kentucky.”
“This is a hard week. As we come upon the year, people are still very clear that for them justice includes firing, arresting and charging all of the officers who were involved with Breonna’s murder,” she said. “So we still advocate, we still keep going with with clarity around our demands.”
And she’s doing her part. On Thursday she filed a resolution with new U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to launch a full probe into Taylor’s killing.
“Kentuckians, y’all are amazing and beautiful,” Scott said. “Keep going. This is how we make Kentucky the Commonwealth that we want — it should be for all of us.”
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