Nearly a year to the date that Louisville Metro Police Department officers entered 26-year-old Breonna Taylor’s home in a raid that ended with them shooting and killing the young woman, charges have finally been permanently dropped against her boyfriend Kenneth Walker.
Judge Olu Stevens in Louisville, Kentucky, has ruled that the charges of attempted murder and assault of a police officer Walker faced would be dismissed with prejudice, reports the Louisville Courier Journal. The ruling means Walker cannot be re-charged in the case—which prosecutors have previously indicated was a possibility.
The targeting of Kenneth Walker for criminal prosecution was one of the most ironic and telling examples of the various injustices surrounding Taylor’s tragic death. After officers entered Taylor’s home on a so-called “no-knock” warrant on the night of March 13 last year, Walker says he used his licensed firearm in self-defense to protect himself and Taylor—believing intruders were trying to break in.
He fired one shot, which officers say led them to unload a barrage of bullets—striking Taylor five times and even firing into neighboring apartments. In the aftermath, Taylor was dead and Walker was charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer for allegedly shooting one of the cops, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, in the leg during the raid. Those charges were temporarily dropped last May as uproar spread against the lack of accountability for the cops involved in Taylor’s killing. At the time, local prosecutor Thomas Wine had left the door open for Walker to be recharged pending the results of a grand jury investigation in October.
That grand jury investigation, though resulting in none of the officers being indicted in Taylor’s death, opened up a whole host of questions about the veracity of the clear-cut “official” story relayed by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Only one witness reportedly corroborated officers’ testimony that they announced themselves before entering Taylor’s apartment. A ballistics report also could not conclusively show that Mattingly was shot by Walker, rather than friendly fire from another cop, despite Cameron’s public announcement that officers were justified in their lethal use of force because Walker injured an officer.
The permanent dismissal of the charges against Walker comes after Wine wrote to the court last week with a motion saying that no new information to support the charges against him had been revealed.
In a statement about the closing of the criminal case against his client, Walker’s attorney Steven Romines said, “We believe the city used Kenneth as a pawn to cover up the events that took place on March 13, 2020, and further used him to cover up the deep-seated failures within the Louisville Metro Police Department.”
“It does not go unnoticed that neither the city nor the LMPD has apologized for using Kenneth as a scapegoat for an improper raid gone bad,” he added.
Walker has sued the LMPD and the city of Louisville for false arrest and police misconduct and has sought immunity from prosecution in the shooting. Though dismissing the charges against him, the judge denied Walker’s motion for immunity on the basis that it was moot. The lack of immunity—even in light of Kentucky’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law—means that Walker could still be liable if Mattingly wins a civil case against him for emotional distress, assault and battery.