Breonna Taylor: State of emergency declared as Louisville awaits decision on whether to charge police

Matt Mathers
·4 mins read
A man looks over a memorial dedicated to Breonna Taylor , who was killed during a police raid on her home (Getty Images)
A man looks over a memorial dedicated to Breonna Taylor , who was killed during a police raid on her home (Getty Images)

A state of emergency has been declared in Louisville, Kentucky - the state's largest city - ahead of prosecutors' decision on whether or not to charge police officers over the killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who was shot 13 times during a raid on her home in March.

Greg Fischer, Louisville mayor, said he had introduced the measure to prepare for potential civil unrest as the city nervously awaits the state attorney general's announcement. Officials have not yet made public when the decision will be announced, although it is expected in the coming days.

It came hours after Louisville police department said it would restrict access to the city's downtown area; both the police and mayor Fischer said the move was aimed at protecting both demonstrators and the people who live and work in the area.

Barricades will be erected around Jefferson Square Park, where protests over Taylor's death have been held, and the perimeter of the downtown area; allowing only pedestrians in the blocks immediately surrounding the park; restricting vehicle traffic in other areas of downtown and limiting access to parking garages.

"Our goal is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights after the announcement," said mayor Fischer when declaring the state of emergency. "At the same time, we are preparing for any eventuality to keep everyone safe," he added.

Mayor Fisher said that he did not know what the Kentucky attorney general, Daniel Cameron, would say in the announcement. Mr Cameron has declined to set a deadline for his decision. Earlier this month, he remarked that "an investigation, if done properly, cannot follow a certain timeline."

Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said officials from Mr Cameron's office have promised to try to give authorities a heads-up.Kentucky governor Andy Beshear said the measures taken by Louisville police are due to the intense scrutiny of the Taylor case, in Louisville and around the country.

"The national attention here is so great, the potential for outsiders so significant, the possibility of someone taking something peaceful and trying to turn it into something that's not, is all there," Mr Beshear said during his daily Covid-19 briefing on Tuesday.

Taylor, a hospital emergency room tecnician, was shot multiple times on 13 March by officers who entered her home using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. The warrant used was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside. The use of no-knock warrants has since been banned by Louisville's Metro Council.

Breonna Taylor was shot 13 times during the raidBreonna Taylor
Breonna Taylor was shot 13 times during the raidBreonna Taylor

Large protests over Taylor's death that at times became violent erupted in late May in the city but most demonstrations since then have been peaceful. Celebrities, athletes, activists and Taylor's family have for months pushed Cameron to criminally charge the officers involved in the raid.

Last week, the city of Louisville settled a lawsuit from Taylor's family for $12 million and pledged several police reforms as part of the agreement.

Meanwhile, an officer who was shot in the leg by Taylor's boyfriend the night police entered her apartment wrote an email to fellow officers telling them that with their actions, Mr Fischer and top police officials had "failed all of us in epic proportions."

In the email, published by news outlets Tuesday and confirmed by his attorney, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly wrote, "I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night."

Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, told police he fired one round after Taylor's door was broken down and Mr Mattingly entered. Mr Walker said he thought someone was breaking into the house and didn't know that it was police who were entering.

Referring to protesters, Mr Mattingly added that police officers should not be in a position "that allows thugs to get in your face and yell, curse and degrade you." His attorney, Kent Wicker, told The Associated Press in an email that Mr Mattingly's email was "expressing his support for (fellow officers) and their work during these difficult times."

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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