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Breonna Taylor's boyfriend files federal lawsuit alleging Louisville police violated his rights during raid

A year ago, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police during a no-knock warrant. Here is the progress that has been made in her case, and what her mother hopes happens next.

Posted: Mar 14, 2021 8:31 PM
Updated: Mar 14, 2021 8:31 PM

The day before the anniversary of Breonna Taylor's death, her boyfriend Kenneth Walker III filed a federal lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and the officers involved in last year's fatal raid that seeks damages for violations of his constitutional rights, according to a lawsuit filed Friday and obtained by CNN.

The lawsuit stems from the flawed forced-entry raid at Taylor's apartment on March 13, 2020. Walker, thinking officers were intruders, fired one shot as officers broke down the door, hitting Sgt. John Mattingly in the leg, authorities said. The officers returned a barrage of gunfire throughout the apartment, killing Taylor and, according to a statement from the state Attorney General's Office, nearly hitting a family in another apartment.

Walker was arrested and charged with shooting at an officer, but those charges were initially dismissed last year and then dismissed with prejudice, or permanently, last week.

Filed in US District Court for the Western District of Kentucky on Friday, Walker's lawyers allege in the suit that LMPD officers violated Walker's Fourth Amendment rights when they executed the search warrant on Taylor's residence.

The suit alleges that the warrant was based on fabricated assertions; the raid was unnecessarily conducted in the middle of the night; the officers did not announce they were police; and the officers responded with excessive force. The lawsuit also alleges that officers carrying out the raid did not coordinate with Louisville Metro Police SWAT team, which, the lawsuit says, typically handles no-knock raids.

Further, the lawsuit levels broader criticisms at the LMPD, saying it permits officers to execute late night search warrants and routinely does so "regardless of circumstances." The lawsuit alleges that late night search warrants "predictably leads to dangerous situations in which the targets of searches mistake police for intruders."

LMPD said it does not comment on pending litigation. However, the officers involved in the raid have told investigators they repeatedly knocked and announced themselves before bursting through her front door with a battering ram.

Georgetown University Law Center professor Cliff Sloan, one of the lawyers representing Walker, told CNN in a statement Saturday that the lawsuit was important to vindicate Walker's rights.

"We are seeking to ensure that there is justice and accountability for the tragic and unjustified police assault on Kenneth Walker and killing of Breonna Taylor in her home in the middle of the night," he said.

Taylor's death has led to widespread protests against the ways police and the criminal justice system can devalue Black people's lives. Her death has also sparked a wider recognition of the dangers of forced-entry raids, both for a home's occupants and for police. The Louisville Metro Council unanimously passed "Breonna's Law" last June banning no-knock search warrants.

No officer involved was directly charged with Taylor's death. Former detective Brett Hankison, one of the officers who opened fire the night of the raid, was charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly blindly shooting into the apartment, endangering a neighboring family of three, according to a September 2020 statement from Attorney General Daniel Cameron. He has pleaded not guilty.

Joshua Jaynes, who had written the search warrant for the raid, was fired in January. His attorney said he planned to appeal the termination. Another detective involved in the raid, Myles Cosgrove, was also fired in January.

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