Family of black woman killed by Kentucky police in her home files suit

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of a woman killed in an officer-involved shooting in Kentucky has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

The Louisville Metro Police Department went to 26-year-old Breonna Taylor’s apartment around 12:30 a.m. March 13. Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were sleeping at the time.

Police said the officers knocked and announced themselves several times before forcing entry. They said they were immediately met with gunfire. One officer was shot in the leg.

Police said they began firing shots back. Taylor, an EMT who worked at two Louisville hospitals, was shot eight times.

An undated courtesy photo of Breonna Taylor and Kenneth Walker.
An undated courtesy photo of Breonna Taylor and Kenneth Walker.

Walker, who was later identified as the shooter, was arrested and charged with attempted murder of a police officer. A unit with LMPD is now investigating the incident.

Attorneys for the family said the person police were looking for was Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, with whom she had little contact. They said he did not live there and was not there when police were serving the warrant. They also said the officer’s story is not accurate.

“Neighbors say that they did not announce themselves. They did not knock. They did not hear anything outside of the banging in of the door,” attorney Lonita Baker said on behalf of Taylor’s family. “Breonna and Kenny thought that their home was being invaded, burglarized so much so that Kenny called 911.”

Baker said police fired about 20 to 30 rounds through windows that were covered with blinds and drapes. She said several bullets also went through neighboring apartments.

An undated courtesy photo of Breonna Taylor.
An undated courtesy photo of Breonna Taylor.

Taylor grew up in Grand Rapids, and many of her family members still live in the area. They say her death has been tough on them.

“To be shot that many times and no one there — I think it hurts more because we don’t know if she died instantly or suffered,” said the victim’s cousin Tawanna Gordon as she stood outside of her Grand Rapids home. “I can only imagine if she suffered, how much she called for her mother. That hurts because she didn’t have to die like that.”

Gordon said her family has taken to social media with Taylor’s story. They said they didn’t get much attention until the story of Ahmaud Arbery, the black jogger killed in Georgia, became national news. A white father and son have been charged in that case.

“We have all talked about Sandra Bland and all the other victims of police brutality, and we’re thinking, ‘Not our family,'” said Gordon.

Gordon said now they want to make sure Taylor gets the justice she deserves.

Said Baker: “You can’t sleep while black, which is what Breonna was doing. You can’t walk. You can’t run. We need a better way to police — too many innocent lives are being taken.”

The family said it hurts to know they will never see Taylor get married, have children or pursue her dreams.

“We miss you like crazy and we are so sorry this had to happen to you, but we know God does not take life unless he needs it,” said Gordon.

The family’s attorneys said they’re asking the Kentucky Commonwealth Attorney to present the case to a grand jury. They want criminal charges brought against the officers and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the incident.

The department said it could not comment on the pending investigation.

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