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Louisville to pay $12 million in Breonna Taylor’s killing, make police reforms

Breonna Taylor Memorial in Louisville Kentucky (FloNight/WikiCommons)

The city of Louisville announced Tuesday a civil settlement in which it agreed to take steps toward police reform and pay the family of Breonna Taylor $12 million.

Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by investigators with the Louisville Metro Police Department in March. In the months following her death, protests across the country have called for justice for Taylor and for an end to police violence.

The civil case was filed in April by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, against the city and the officers involved in the shooting.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the settlement Tuesday alongside attorneys for Breonna Taylor’s family.

Attorney Lonita Baker said that it was important to the family that police reform be part of any settlement. The changes are a start, but the family and attorneys will continue to fight for further change and justice in Taylor’s case, she said.

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The LMPD reform plans include requiring a commander to review and approve search warrants before they are sent forward to a judge, Fischer said. Additionally, the unit’s commanding officer will act as an incident commander when warrants are executed, with a secondary commander at each location if multiple warrants are being executed at once. The changes also call for paramedics or EMS workers to be on scene if a forced-entry warrant is being executed.

Other changes included the addition of social workers to the police department to respond to some calls, incentives for police officers to live in the communities they serve, additional protocols for monetary seizures by police and increased random drug testing within the police department.

Fischer also announced that an early warning system monitoring use of force by officers will be implemented to identify those in need of more training and that changes will be made in how ongoing investigations of officers are handled when an officer leaves before the investigation is complete.

Taylor’s attorneys continue to demand that criminal charges — a minimum of second-degree manslaughter — be filed immediately by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron against the officers involved, said Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family.

Asked later if the settlement puts pressure on Cameron’s review of the case for possible charges, Gov. Andy Beshear said, ”I hope that the attorney general is feeling pressure and I don’t mean that negatively — I mean pressure to get this done, pressure to get it right, pressure to explain any decision or process properly to the public.”

Crump also called for charges filed against “courageous” non-violent protesters to be dropped.

“These young people should not have criminal records because they were on the right side of history,” Crump said.

The civil settlement is just the first of three phases in getting justice for Taylor, Crump said. In addition to charges against the involved officers, lawmakers must take steps to ensure that Breonna’s Law, which would ban no-knock warrants, goes into effect not just in Louisville, but around the country, Crump said. Breonna’s Law was voted on by the Metro Council in Louisville in June.

“Her beautiful spirit and personality is working through all of us on the ground,” Palmer said at Tuesday’s announcement. “So please continue to say her name, Breonna Taylor.”

Taylor was shot multiple times by police after officers broke through her apartment’s door as part of a no-knock warrant. Police have said that they did knock, but Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, later said in court filings that he didn’t know who was at the door.

Walker fired a shot, and police said the shot struck one of the officers in the leg.

Police investigators Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly were individually named in the lawsuit. Mattingly was the officer shot in the leg.

The lawsuit accused the officers of firing blindly into Taylor’s apartment, killing her.

Cameron continues to investigate the shooting. Last week, Cameron said that the investigation cannot follow a timeline “if done properly.”

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© 2020 the Lexington Herald-Leader