What Can We Learn From After Breonna Taylor's Death Finds Police Discrimination in Louisville?

What Can We Learn From After Breonna Taylor's Death Finds Police Discrimination in Louisville?


Breonna Taylor's death at the hands of police marked a watershed moment for racial justice protests across America. Protesters chanted her name for months and gathered in her hometown of Louisville to demand justice.

In July, Taylor's family filed a lawsuit against officers Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, alleging excessive force. Additionally, they claimed that Mayor Greg Fischer's nighttime raid on Taylor's apartment was part of his plan to clear a block for redevelopment.

What Happened?

On March 13th, 2020, Louisville police shot and killed Breonna Taylor; her name became a national cause celebre alongside that of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Ahmaud Arbery in New York. These deaths and protests spurred a national dialogue on race relations and the need for systemic change, particularly within police practices towards Black communities.

After Taylor's passing, thousands of people across America took to the streets and cities demanding justice for her and a more equitable policing system. This movement was further strengthened by Oprah Winfrey and NBA star LeBron James' endorsement of Taylor for their magazine Until Freedom.

For years, activists had been marching in the street demanding arrests; yet their demands were often ignored. But this week came a major breakthrough when federal charges were announced against four officers involved in Taylor's shooting death.

Officers Kelly Goodlett, Joshua Jaynes and Kyle Meany are accused of conspiring to violate Taylor's civil rights by fabricating evidence to obtain the search warrant that led to the failed raid. Furthermore, they were charged with lying to federal investigators in an effort to conceal this false evidence.

Prosecutors reported that two months after the shooting, Jaynes and Goodlett met in a garage to fabricate a false story to cover up for falsifying information they submitted when applying for the search warrant. They are accused of falsely stating police had confirmed packages would be sent to Taylor's apartment when none actually were. Furthermore, it is alleged they fired blindly through an open window covered with curtains and blinds into Taylor's residence.

Taylor's family had been striving for justice for nearly two years, and they had hoped a grand jury indictment would bring closure and give them faith that those responsible could be held accountable.

On Thursday, August 4, 2022, four officers were charged with the first criminal offenses related to Taylor's case. These charges come amid widespread public protests across Kentucky and beyond as well as media reports detailing the incompetence of their planning and execution leading up to Taylor's death.

What Can Be Done?

One year ago today, Louisville police executed a no-knock search warrant at the apartment of Black woman Breonna Taylor. Her death became an iconic symbol of racial injustice and sparked widespread protests against police brutality. Despite widespread calls for justice, no charges were filed against those responsible - fueling an ongoing social justice movement against white supremacy and police brutality across America.

Attorney Benjamin Crump of Ben Crump Law, PLLC, championed the Taylor family and their rights for two months after the incident, becoming well known across America for his dedication to civil rights issues. Additionally, he is an environmental justice advocate, advocating on behalf of those affected by Flint's water crisis and their families.

The case was complicated by a series of errors during the process to obtain a warrant for search. Joshua Jaynes, the detective who executed it, was fired because he falsified information in the document granting him access to Taylor's home. In court documents, Jaynes claimed Taylor's boyfriend Danny Glover had sent him a package which hadn't been included in his original affidavit requesting the search warrant.

At the time, officers believed Taylor to have connections to a drug trafficker, based on inaccurate information. Officers suspected Taylor was receiving suspicious packages from Glover.

Officers broke down Taylor's door in the middle of the night and shot her multiple times. According to police reports, all three officers involved acted out of self-preservation; however, it remains unclear who fired first.

Last week, Hankison - the only officer charged criminally - was accused of reckless endangerment because his bullets missed Taylor and instead struck her neighbors, whose lives were unaffected by the shooting. Other officers who entered the apartment weren't charged despite firing at least 32 rounds into it before police discovered Taylor's body in the hallway.

The grand jury's decision to charge Hankison with only three counts of wanton endangerment has sparked widespread protests in Louisville and beyond, calling for the charges to be dropped and an independent investigation into his killing conducted. While Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and city government have issued statements in response, they have yet to address discriminatory police practices.

What Can Be Learnt?

What Can We Learn From Breonna Taylor's Death and Police Discrimination in Louisville?

On Monday, Attorney General Merrick Garland launched a comprehensive investigation into Louisville police over the racially charged killing of Breonna Taylor. He stated that they would be looking for evidence of any "pattern or practice" of misconduct within their ranks.

In 2020, Taylor was 26-years old and employed as an EMT for two local hospitals during a devastating coronavirus outbreak. She loved her family deeply, had an intense passion for social justice issues, and dedicated herself to her job.

Taylor's tragic murder by three white officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department ignited nationwide protests and an activist movement against systemic violence against Black people. In the wake of her passing, millions paid tribute to her memory and demanded justice.

As a result, her case and other Black women's deaths at the hands of law enforcement became rallying points for #SayHerName campaign led by Kimberle Crenshaw, executive director of the African American Policy Forum. Additionally, this movement has spurred calls for federal bans on no-knock warrants and other laws that restrict police power.

Kelly Goodlett, one of the LMPD detectives, later admitted to lying about a key piece of information in her affidavit when attempting to execute a search warrant on Taylor's apartment. Her document claimed that someone known to be Taylor's former-boyfriend was receiving packages at her residence - which prosecutors claim she knew was false.

Prosecutors said her affidavit was later amended to delete that statement. Additionally, officers claimed they obtained the warrant based on evidence that a drug dealer living a mile away from Taylor's apartment had been meeting with her.

Taylor's family maintains that police discrimination played a role in her death and has been fighting for justice ever since. Her death and the failure to indict those responsible sparked protests around the world, with numerous celebrities using their platforms to draw attention to this case and other cases of Black women killed by police.

What Can Be Done Next?

Breonna Taylor's death sparked a national conversation about police violence against Black people, leading to massive racial injustice protests across America. Ultimately, Louisville police officers were charged with civil rights violations in relation to Taylor's death.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department reported that its two-year investigation into Taylor's fatal March 13th home raid revealed a pattern of discriminatory policing rooted in racism. Officers often violated Taylor's right to privacy when entering her apartment and carried out search warrants without knocking or otherwise alerting her that they were there.

According to the report, disparate policing also affected who was cited for non-violent offenses. Black residents were four times as likely to be cited for loitering as white residents and three times more likely to receive a summons for disorderly conduct.

Mayor Greg Fischer has pledged to implement several recommendations from the Justice Department. These include an ordinance banning no-knock search warrants and mandating police wear body cameras.

Although there have been some positive improvements made in Louisvil, there remains much work to do. The Justice Department's report highlights many civil-rights violations that were found there, and it is now up to the city to ensure these issues are addressed.

Some of the most critical steps the city can take are holding officers accountable and guaranteeing their policing policies are fair and reasonable. That could include requiring all officers to wear body cameras, which would reduce discrimination risks and guarantee all encounters are conducted objectively.

Other measures the city can take include improving officer training and supporting their mental health. Both these steps will help address the problem of officer-involved shootings.

No matter the course of events in Louisville, Breonna Taylor's story remains a source of frustration and unrest. Her family and many others affected by her tragedy continue to fight for justice for her while calling on the city to take action against those responsible.

Related Articles