The Louisville Courier Journal is suing the city’s police department over its investigative file concerning the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old black EMT who was killed during a police raid in March.
Filed late Tuesday afternoon, the lawsuit argues that the public has the right to know the circumstances and details of Taylor’s death. As the Courier-Journal reports, the Louisville Metro Police Department’s internal investigation into Taylor’s shooting has already been completed, which the paper believes makes the LMPD’s file eligible to be released under Kentucky’s open records laws.
“This charade of secrecy at LMPD must stop. The public deserves more; it deserves answers,” Courier-Journal editor Richard Green said, adding that the Taylor case has drawn national scrutiny “with good reason.”
“At this unsettled time, LMPD wants to keep private its finished investigation and pretend its work does not belong to the public and to taxpayers. We disagree, which is why we are taking our case directly to the court for a ruling.”
As the country is once again gripped by another high-profile instance of police brutality, with thousands in Minneapolis marching to protest the in-custody death of George Floyd, Taylor’s family and advocates are fighting to keep attention on her case.
Around 100 people gathered on the steps of Metro Hall Tuesday, calling for the LMPD cops involved in her death to be fired and charged in her killing. More than two months after the botched raid, the officers who barged into her home with a “no-knock” warrant remain on paid leave, reports WLKY TV.
“We have a right to live while black,” Taylor’s aunt, Bianca Austin, said at Tuesday’s protest.
Dr. Rev. Frank Smith Jr., former president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition, was also among those demonstrating.
“They are serving at the behest of tax dollars, inclusive of black tax dollars,” Smith said, referring to the police. “They do not have the right to be administratively reassigned and keep drawing a check when they offended this community by incompetent policing.”
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s office said the decision to terminate the officers’ employment lies with the LMPD’s Professional Standards Unit, which would assess whether they violated the department’s policies the night of Taylor’s fatal shooting. Kentucky’s attorney general would need to decide whether to file criminal charges against the police.
Fischer’s response stands in stark contrast to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who quickly and unequivocally condemned the officers involved in Floyd’s arrest. Floyd’s in-custody killing drew widespread outrage after video showed a white officer kneeling on his neck for at least 8 minutes. Floyd, who was pleading with officers to get off him, died hours later.
Within 24 hours of the Minneapolis incident, all four cops had been fired, with Frey lauding the decision as “the right call.”
In Kentucky, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, just last week. Walker, who said he mistook the cops for home intruders because they didn’t announce their presence, fired his gun at officers as they broke down Taylor’s apartment door. One officer was injured.
Walker’s mother, Velicia Walker, told WLKY her son remains traumatized by that night.
“The only thing my son said to me was, ‘I don’t care what happens on the end of this. I’m not free because I don’t have Bre,’” she said.