For months, voices across America have demanded justice in the case of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician who was shot and killed by police officers in her own home. On Tuesday, the city of Louisville, Kentucky, where Breonna lived and died, announced a settlement with the family of the deceased. They will get $12 million for their daughter’s wrongful death.
In addition to the monetary settlement, the city has agreed to adapt a dozen reforms to its police policies to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring. It did not, however, address one of the public’s foremost demands: charges against the officers who killed Breonna. That’s because the decision to charge the officers is up to the State Attorney General, not the city of Louisville.
Settlement and Reforms
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the settlement, along with the reforms. Among them, the city will establish a housing credit program to encourage officers to live in the neighborhoods they serve. Another reform will utilize social workers to provide support on certain police runs. And finally, a key reform will require commanders to review and approve search warrants before seeking a judge’s approval.
As for the $12 million that Louisville will provide Breonna’s family, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office has confirmed it is the biggest settlement the city has ever paid. Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Breonna’s family, called the payout “historic,” and said that it may be the largest ever settlement in the wrongful death of a Black woman by police officers.
Still, to the family of the late medical professional, Breonna’s life can never be replaced by a dollar amount. But, her family has stated, there is some solace in fixing the police system that resulted in her death, and preventing other families from suffering such a nightmare in the future.
“Justice for Breonna means that we will continue to save lives in her honor,” said Tamika Palmer, the deceased’s mother. “No amount of money accomplishes that, but the police reform measures that we were able to get passed as a part of this settlement mean so much more to my family, our community, and to Breonna’s legacy.”
Despite the payout and the reforms, one chief demand of those seeking justice for Breonna remains unmet: arresting the officers who killed her. When three narcotics officers busted through the door of Breonna’s home in March, her boyfriend fired a personal gun at them, fearing they were armed intruders. In response, the officers returned fire, catching Breonna in the cross-fire. In June, the police force terminated Officer Brett Hankison, who fired ten rounds. He was deemed responsible for killing the young medical worker. Still, neither he or his colleagues have been charged in the incident.
Meanwhile, in the state’s capital, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has become a special prosecutor in the case. (Cameron, incidentally, is the state’s first Black Attorney General). Additionally, the FBI has opened its own investigation into the flawed raid that ended in Breonna Taylor’s death.
On Tuesday, family attorneys Benjamin Crump and Lonita Baker, as well as Breonna’s mother Tamika Palmer, continued their push for criminal charges against the officers.
“It’s time to move forward with the criminal charges,” Palmer said. “Because she deserves that and much more. Her beautiful spirit and personality is working through all of us on the ground, so please continue to say her name: Breonna Taylor.”