VOA NEWS - Officials in the U.S. city of Louisville, Kentucky are bracing for a possible announcement from the state’s attorney general on whether he will charge the police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a young Black woman, during a nighttime raid.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer issued a state of emergency on Tuesday due to the potential for civil unrest. Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder told reporters that police were erecting barricades around downtown Louisville this week and limiting vehicle traffic in the area. He has also canceled all vacations and will not approve any vacation requests from officers until further notice.
The windows of several downtown buildings have been boarded up, and the federal courthouse and other federal government buildings have been closed for the week.
On March 13, officers broke down the door of Taylor’s apartment to execute a so-called “no-knock” search warrant as part of an illicit drug investigation. When Taylor’s boyfriend shot and wounded one of the officers as they entered the residence, the officers fired several shots, hitting Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, several times.
An internal investigation found the warrant was connected to an ex-boyfriend of Taylor who did not live there, and that no drugs were found in the apartment. One of the officers has been fired for violating the police department’s policy on the use of deadly force, although he is appealing the decision.
Kentucky Attorney General David Cameron has declined to confirm news reports that he has opened a grand jury investigation. He issued a statement recently saying, "An investigation, if done properly, cannot follow a specific timeline." The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also begun a probe into Taylor’s death.
The city reached a $12 million settlement with Taylor’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by her mother. As part of the settlement, city officials agreed to various police reforms in an effort to prevent a repeat of the circumstances that led to Taylor’s death, including more thorough reviews by high-level police commanders of raids before they are carried out.
The city had already passed a law named for Taylor, banning use of no-knock warrants, which police often use in drug cases for fear that evidence could be destroyed if they announce their arrival.
Protests erupted in May in Louisville over Taylor’s death, with demonstrators demanding the officers involved in her death face criminal charges. The demonstrations also coincided with those surrounding the case of George Floyd, a Black man whose death that same month while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota was captured on cellphone video. Both incidents led to nationwide protests over racial injustice and police treatment of minorities, and a social media campaign was launched using Taylor’s name and image to raise awareness of her case.