Breonna Taylor, 26, was killed when police executed a no-knock search warrant for illegal drugs at her home on March 13. No drugs were found. Taylor's death has sparked a national uproar and calls for federal intervention. Activists have highlighted her death alongside that of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was fatally shot in February on a Georgia residential street. High-profile figures including California Sen. Kamala Harris have called for a federal investigation. An online petition with more than 150,000 signatures says police performed an “illegal drug raid” before killing Taylor.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said officers in plainclothes units like the one that served a warrant at Taylor’s home will now wear the cameras during search warrants. Fischer also said he is changing the policy on what police call “no-knock” search warrants. Police received permission from a judge to enter Taylor's home without announcing their presence during the search. The family, in a lawsuit, said neighbors did not hear officers before they entered.
Fischer said the police chief will now need to sign off on those types of warrants before they are sent to a judge for approval. “This is a step, but we know there needs to be more conversation on the use of these warrants," Fischer said in an address streamed on the internet. He took no media questions after the announcements.
The body camera policy will extend to all sworn officers during search warrants where they identify themselves as police officers, Fischer said. Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired at officers, striking one during the warrant search. Walker has been charged with attempted murder of a police officer. An attorney for Walker has told media that Walker thought he was defending them from a break-in and even called 911.
The lawsuit filed last week by Taylor's family said the officers “spray(ed) gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life.” Taylor was shot eight times. Police said they were returning fire after one officer was shot in the apartment and wounded. The lawsuit said police had already located the drug suspect they were seeking at a different location before executing the warrant at Taylor’s residence.
The lawsuit filed by family attorney Sam Aguiar calls for Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad to be fired. Aguiar told the AP on Monday that “the department under Chief Conrad continues to harm and kill innocent members of the community at an alarming rate.”
Fischer has deflected questions about Conrad's status, saying “that is not the important issue of the day.” Fischer and Conrad announced their request for additional federal help on Thursday. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear also has called for an outside review.
The mayor said the state attorney general and U.S. attorney’s office would review the police findings of the shooting when the investigation concludes this week.