Following her death in March 2020, Breonna Taylor’s case became a rallying cry for Black Lives Matter protesters. Taylor was killed by police who were executing a no-knock warrant to enter her apartment as part of a narcotics investigation. However, the target of that investigation didn’t live at the address police broke into.
Several witnesses from the scene detailed that they did not hear police identify themselves before breaking into Taylor’s home. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, heard the police entering the home and thought they were intruders. He grabbed his gun, which he owns legally, and opened fire, striking one of the officers in the leg. Police returned fire, striking Taylor six times and killing her.
Charges Brought Against Officer
Taylor’s family was seeking charges of at least manslaughter against all three officers involved in the shooting. However, only one of the officers, Brett Hankison, was charged, and his charge was only for wanton endangerment for the bullets that entered Taylor’s neighbor’s apartment. This infuriated not only Taylor’s family and their attorney, Ben Crump, but protesters in Louisville, Kentucky.
Following the announcement of the charges, protests broke out throughout the city. Meanwhile, Police Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly, who was involved in the shooting, has threatened to sue protesters and publications who call him a “murderer” for his involvement in Taylor’s death. In a recently-leaked email, Mattingly told officers he felt they did the right thing in the case.
Mattingly Email Leaks
In the email, Mattingly writes “You DO NOT DESERVE to be in this position,” he wrote, referring to the other officers in his department. “The position that allows thugs to get in your face and yell, curse and degrade you. Throw bricks bottles and urine on you and expect you to do nothing.”
This email has been widely spread by protesters who cite it as evidence of police entitlement. Protests in the US have remained constant throughout the summer, as outrage over the lack of police accountability mounts. Many have pointed out that police appear to have far more leeway in defending their actions as “self-defense” than black Americans do.
Protesters have called for more information on how the grand jury reached its decision to not charge the officers involved in Taylor’s shooting. Meanwhile, unrest in Louisville matches BLM’s ever-present mantra, “no justice, no peace”. The protests have remained largely peaceful, but scattered incidents of violence have been reported from parts of Louisville.