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Breonna Taylor’s Family Settles $12 Million Wrongful Death Suit With City

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The city of Louisville, Kentucky, announced a $12 million wrongful death settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor today. Taylor, 26, was shot to death in her bed on March 13 when Louisville Metro Police Department officers served a “no-knock” warrant at her apartment. The settlement, which also includes sweeping police reform measures, represents the largest amount ever reached by the city in an officer-involved shooting case.

As part of the settlement the city agreed to the following reform measures:

  • To establish a housing credit program as an incentive for officers to live in the areas in which they serve
  • To use social workers to provide support on certain police runs
  • To require commanders to review and approve search warrants before seeking judicial approval

The city had already taken some reform measures prior to Tuesday’s settlement announcement including passing a law named for Taylor banning the use of the “no-knock” warrants. In the past police had typically used them in narcotics cases over concern that evidence could be destroyed if their arrival was announced in advance.

The lawsuit, filed in April by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, alleged police used flawed information when obtaining the “no-knock” warrant to enter the 26-year-old woman’s apartment in March. Taylor and her boyfriend were awakened from bed by police late in the evening. Shortly thereafter, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, reportedly fired once at the officers believing it was an intruder. Investigators claim police were returning fire when Taylor was shot several times. No drugs were ever found at the scene. The warrant was one of five issued in a wide-ranging investigation of a drug trafficking suspect who was a former boyfriend of Taylor’s.

“It’s important to know here, a financial settlement was non-negotiable without police reform,” Lonita Baker, an attorney for the Taylor family, said at a joint news conference with Louisville Mayor, Greg Fischer, on Tuesday. “Justice for Breonna is multi-layered. What we were able to accomplish … is tremendous, but is only a portion of a single layer.”

“I cannot begin to imagine Ms. Palmer’s pain, and I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna’s death,” Fischer said.

Justice for Breonna means that we will continue to save lives in her honor,” said Taylor’s mother. “No amount of money accomplishes that, but the police reform measures that we were able to get passed as a part of this settlement mean so much more to my family, our community, and to Breonna’s legacy.”

Presently, criminal charges have yet to be filed against any of the officers involved in the botched raid. Kentucky Attorney General, Daniel Cameron, was assigned as special prosecutor in the case earlier this year. Additionally, the FBI has opened an investigation.

On Tuesday, Crump, attorney Lonita Baker, and Palmer reiterated their desire for criminal charges to be filed against the officers involved.

“It’s time to move forward with the criminal charges, because she deserves that and much more,” Palmer said. “Her beautiful spirit and personality is working through all of us on the ground, so please continue to say her name: Breonna Taylor.”

Reports indicate largest settlement previously paid in a Louisville police misconduct case was $8.5 million in 2012 to a man who spent nine years in prison for a crime he did not commit.