By Kalen Abe
LOUISVILLE – Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Breonna Taylor’s family, and their attorneys announced Tuesday that the City of Louisville agreed to settle the family’s wrongful death lawsuit in a payout of $12 million to Taylor’s estate and by instituting policy reforms.
Taylor was a Black woman who was fatally shot on March 13 by the Louisville Metro Police. Taylor’s murder at the hands of the police occurred shortly after George Floyd’s, a Black man. These deaths, among many others, sparked nationwide Black Lives Matter protests across the country and the world.
Breonna Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer took to the podium alongside Lonita Baker and Benjamin Crump, the attorneys representing Taylor’s family. The three donned masks printed with Taylor’s name.
Palmer said, “It’s only the beginning of getting full justice for Breonna, we must not lose focus on what the real drive is. It is time to move forward with criminal charges. Please continue to say her name: Breonna Taylor.” The room quietly echoed her.
As part of the settlement, Fischer announced changes such as incentivizing officers to live in certain low-income areas in the city through a housing credit program. The LMPD will also retain social workers for officer assistance on dispatched runs warranting a social worker’s presence.
To create departmental transparency and accountability, Fischer stated that the city will implement an early warning system that tracks all use-of-force incidents, citizen complaints, and investigations.
In addition, the LMPD will also update its PSU (Professional Standards Unit) investigation process regarding cases when a police officer separates from LMPD before the completion of his or her investigation.
Unfortunately, neither Fischer nor Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell explained how these reforms would be enforced and who would enforce them.
Moreover, tensions continue to rise as Attorney General Daniel Cameron has yet to reach a decision as to whether he will bring charges against the three officers responsible for killing Taylor.
Baker explained that, though the family’s civil lawsuit is now complete, “our focus now is on the attorney general’s office bringing forth indictments against those officers.” She clarified, “We are not going to stop our calls to hold the officers responsible for Breonna’s death accountable”
Crump agreed with Baker, saying that “regardless of this landmark step on the journey to justice, we still are demanding that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron bring charges immediately against the police officers that murdered Briana Taylor. Immediately. This week.”
Invoking Martin Luther King, Jr., Crump stated, “Justice delayed is justice denied. At the bare minimum, I need a second-degree manslaughter charge.”
Crump also spoke to the history of racism against Black communities in the United States, saying that “while most of America is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have Black America dealing with the 1619 pandemic that started 401 years ago when the first enslaved Africans came to America.”
Referring to the history of white violence toward Black Americans, Crump stated, “We see that there are two justice systems in America, one for Black America and one for white America.”
He spoke about Taylor’s legacy, saying, “I believe Breonna Taylor’s name is going to bring greater attention in America, that Black women’s lives matter, too.”
Chants floated from activists and Breonna Taylor’s family as the press briefing drew to a close:
“Arrest the cops!” “Arrest the cops!” “Say her name!” “Breonna Taylor!”
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