The world is set to pause Monday to commemorate the life of Breonna Taylor three years after officers with the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) killed her by firing blindly into her home on March 13, 2020.
Taylor’s death anniversary will be solemnly observed five days after the Justice Department (DOJ) released a scathing 90-page report detailing the grim and discriminatory law enforcement tactics that have long plagued LMPD. The two-year investigation was spawned by Taylor’s fatal shooting.
Investigators say LMPD exercised a shocking level of misconduct throughout the years. Officers were found guilty of using excessive force and drawing up invalid no-knock warrants to conduct searches. They were also accused of conducting “unlawful stops” and of “harassing people during street sweeps,” the New York Times noted.
A large majority of the department’s discriminatory practices were used against Black people and individuals with behavioral health problems, the report stated.
Shortly after the findings were revealed, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland issued a statement, noting how the police department had “undermined its public safety mission and strained its relationship with the community it is meant to protect and serve.
“This conduct is unacceptable. It is heartbreaking,” he added.
A bogus no-knock warrant was used during the tragic shooting of Breonna Taylor in 2020. Taylor was just 26 years old when seven Louisville police officers stormed into her apartment and fired off 32 rounds, at least six of which struck and fatally wounded her.
In August 2022, four of the officers involved in the fatal shooting were federally charged with violating Taylor’s civil rights during the botched raid. Kentucky detectives Kelly Goodlett and Joshua Jaynes were charged with falsifying the affidavit used to conduct the reckless search. In a separate indictment, Brett Hankison was charged with using excessive force while executing the search warrant.
Garland admitted that Taylor’s death “was a symptom of problems” that the police department had for years.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks out about the investigation
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron released a statement shortly after the report made headlines. In 2020, the Black Kentucky AG was slammed with scrutiny when he did not pursue murder charges for the cops who killed Taylor.
On Twitter, he maintained that “a vast majority” of law enforcement in the state “protects & serves the Commonwealth with dignity & honor.” In a follow-up tweet, he added:
“We hope that the U.S. Department of Justice’s work with Louisville Metro and city officials will help address lingering concerns & better allow law enforcement to keep people safe.”
My statement regarding the results of DOJ's investigation into Louisville Metro:
The vast majority of Kentucky’s law enforcement community protects & serves the Commonwealth with dignity & honor, & I am thankful to these brave men & women who put their lives on the line (1/2)
— Attorney General Daniel Cameron (@kyoag) March 8, 2023
Social media users flooded the infamous AG’s comment section with negative reactions.
“Law enforcement doesn’t keep anyone but themselves safe,” wrote one user, while a second person commented:
“BREONNA TAYLOR WAS NOT SAFE, THEN THERE WERE LIES!”
A third chimed in:
“You’re a coward. Not enough guts to stand up to police brutality and misconduct. You need to step down as AG of Kentucky and let someone represent the people of that state.”
Breonna Taylor’s family reacts to the scathing report
On Wednesday, Breonna Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer released a statement about LMPD’s history of misconduct and negligence. She said the findings were “an indicator” that Breonna’s death was not in vain.
“What was confirmed today is that I should still be able to (sic) pick up the phone and reach my oldest daughter Breonna,” her statement read. “It took us having to fight day in and day out for years simply because I deserved justice for my daughter’s murder to kickstart this investigation, but today’s findings are an indicator that Breonna’s death is not vain.”
“Our fight will protect future potential victims from LMPD’s racist tactics and behavior. The time for terrorizing the Black community with no repercussions is over,” Palmer added.
Activists in the community also echoed similar sentiments. Shameka Parrish-Wright, a former mayoral candidate who has fought for police accountability, said the grim report was needed to push officials in the city toward creating a game plan for reform.
“We got to stop only wanting to talk to people who don’t, who don’t challenge us,” Parrish-Wright told WHAS 11. “They get, they go to certain faith leaders, and they get in their churches, and then they think they’ve done their job and that isn’t it.”
Leaders in Kentucky are vowing to make changes to the department
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said that he and the DOJ were working together to create new principles and standards for LMPD. In the report, the DOJ offered several recommendations that could help the department reduce misconduct.
The Justice Department said that police stops should be routinely documented and reviewed by supervisors. They also suggested that body camera footage be reviewed consistently to check for signs of misconduct.
The report also advised the LMPD to “ensure that anyone who wishes to submit a complaint about an officer’s conduct is able to do so” and establish an external review panel for sexual assault investigations, CNN noted.
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