LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Mayor Greg Fischer announced a $12 million settlement Tuesday afternoon with the family of Breonna Taylor, 26, a Black woman fatally shot by police in her apartment six months ago.
In addition to the largest settlement ever paid by Louisville police, the deal includes changes in the approval process and execution of search warrants, the hiring of a team of social workers to accompany police officers and a commitment to pursue increased drug and alcohol testing of officers involved in any shooting.
The settlement, first reported Tuesday morning by The Louisville Courier Journal of the USA TODAY Network, was announced at 2 p.m. at a news conference at Fischer’s office, attended by Taylor’s family and attorneys Ben Crump, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker.
Fischer said the city did not acknowledge any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
The police changes secured in the settlement were meant to “engage police officers within the community, not just when they’re dispatched,” Baker said.
Aguiar, an attorney for Taylor’s family, said the city’s handling of the case has been slow and frustrating, but he hopes its willingness to discuss significant police reforms is “a turning point.”
Changes to the police department include:
- Early action warning system to identify officers with red flags.
- Mandatory commanding officer review of all search warrants.
- Mandatory body camera counting from two officers of all currency seizures.
- Mandatory written approval of SWAT matrices before search warrants are executed.
- Encouraging officers to perform at least two paid hours a week of community service in the communities they serve.
- Housing credits for officers to live in certain low-income census tracts in the city.
- Hiring a team of social workers to assist with dispatched runs.
- Commitment to bargain for increased drug and alcohol testing in the next Fraternal Order of Police contract.
- Overhaul of processes for simultaneous search warrants.
- Mandatory EMS/paramedic presence for all search warrants.
- Elimination of the “closed by exception” basis for closing investigations into officer conduct when there is a retirement or resignation.
The large settlement in the civil suit brought by Taylor’s family comes as a Jefferson County grand jury may hear the criminal case as soon as this week. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron spearheads the criminal investigation.
Tamika Mallory of the activist group Until Freedom pressured city and state officials at Tuesday’s news conference for the arrest of police officers at the scene the night Taylor was killed.
The grand jury would decide whether criminal charges should be filed against any of the three officers involved in her death March 13 during a search for drugs, cash and other evidence in her Louisville apartment that went awry.
Charges in the Breonna Taylor case? Grand jury could provide ‘Justice for Breonna’ – or exonerate the officers who shot her
Taylor was shot and killed after Louisville Metro Police officers broke down her apartment door to serve a signed no-knock search warrant in connection with a narcotics investigation centered 10 miles away.
Police said they knocked and announced their presence, but Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he and Taylor didn’t know who was pounding on the door.
When police battered in the door, Walker fired what he later called a warning shot. Police said it struck Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh.
Mattingly and two other officers – detectives Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove – returned fire. Taylor was hit five times and died in her hallway.
Hankison was fired; Cosgrove and Mattingly remain on administrative reassignment.
The suit was filed April 27 and named the three officers as defendants.
It alleges that Taylor’s life was wrongfully taken, that police used excessive force and that the search was grossly negligent.
An amended complaint filed about two months later claimed Taylor’s death was the result of police’s effort to clear out a block for gentrification, and the newly formed Place-Based Investigations unit consisted of “rogue police” who violated “all levels of policy, protocol and policing standards.”
City officials vehemently denied the accusations that gentrification played any role in the narcotics investigation.
The case picked up steam and media coverage in May when Aguiar and Baker were joined by Florida-based Crump, who has represented Black Americans killed in controversial shootings, including Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Tamir Rice.
“LMPD has tried to sweep this under the rug,” Aguiar said. “The family right now has a very understandable desire to know the full circumstance of what went on that night.”
Taylor’s family alleged in the suit the warrant served at Taylor’s apartment targeted Jamarcus Glover, a convicted drug dealer spotted by police at a drug house 10 miles away before the warrant was served on Taylor’s residence.
A warrant listed Taylor’s name and address, but the main narcotics investigation was centered around Glover and co-defendants’ alleged trafficking on Elliott Avenue in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood.
Contributing: Jay Cannon, USA TODAY
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