Breonna Taylor: Family, protesters demand justice on anniversary of her death

Hundreds of people demonstrated in the US city of Louisville on Saturday to mark the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death and renew calls for justice.

Taylor died after being shot by police officers who breached her front door in the early morning hours of March 13, 2020 as she was sleeping as part of a drug raid.

A grand jury indicted one officer on wanton endangerment charges in September for shooting into a neighbour’s apartment, but no officers were charged in connection with Taylor’s death.

“Eyes are on Louisville, Kentucky, today so let’s show America what community looks like,” Taylor’s aunt, Bianca Austin, said on Saturday during the demonstration.

The crowd shouted Taylor’s name and “No justice, no peace” as they gathered near an outdoor memorial that includes a mural, posters, artwork and other mementos honouring Taylor’s life.

The rally came a day after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, filed a federal lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department, alleging his constitutional rights were violated during last year’s botched raid, news outlets reported. Walker last year filed an ongoing state lawsuit against the city and police, saying he was the victim of assault, battery, false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Walker fired his gun once during the raid at Taylor’s flat, saying later that he feared an intruder was entering the apartment. One officer was struck, and he and two other officers fired 32 shots into the apartment, striking Taylor five times.

Taylor’s death initially flew under the media radar, as the COVID-19 crisis shut down society, but George Floyd’s death in Minnesota and the release of a chilling 911 call from Walker in late May sparked interest in the case.

Police had a no-knock warrant but said they knocked and announced their presence before entering Taylor’s apartment, a claim some witnesses have disputed. No drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment.

A Kentucky judge last week signed an order permanently closing a criminal case against Walker for firing at the officer.

Walker referenced the closure of the case against him during Saturday’s rally.

“I gotta say that’s a nice start, but that’s not where we finish,” Walker said. “We’ve got to keep going.”

An ongoing federal investigation could be wide-ranging and is regarded by many as the last chance for justice for Taylor’s death.

President Joe Biden described Taylor’s death as “a tragedy, a blow to her family, her community, and America” in a tweet on Saturday.

“As we continue to mourn her, we must press ahead to pass meaningful police reform in Congress. I remain committed to signing a landmark reform bill into law,” he added.

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