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Breonna Taylor's Killing Prompts A Trip To Mayor’s Home For Louisville Protesters

The drone of a leaf blower blaring in the posh Bonnycastle neighborhood was quickly buried beneath the blaring horns, banging drums and voices of protesters who’d come to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s house to call for action on Friday afternoon.

Just as Fischer had begun his regular virtual update on the coronavirus, the line of nearly 20 cars driven by protesters snaked by his home. Their message was clear to anyone who saw, or heard, them pass by: Breonna Taylor should not have died, and her family deserves justice.

Taylor, a Black woman, was killed by Louisville Metro Police in March after detectives came to her apartment in southwest Jefferson County to serve a search warrant.

Her killing has garnered national attention in recent days and her family has filed a lawsuit against the city’s police department, claiming the 26-year-old “did nothing to deserve to die at their hands.”

Taylor’s family has hired prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who also represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

The shooting is being investigated by the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit. Fischer expects the case to be sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney as early as next week for additional review.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has also called on the state’s Attorney General to examine the case.

The shooting is drawing a string of questions about police policies dictating how officers obtain and serve warrants, and how they use force. WDRB News reported Friday afternoon that part of the reasoning that led officers to obtain the warrant -- that a target in the case was receiving suspicious packages at her apartment -- was being disputed by a U.S. postal inspector in Louisville.

And though police officials have claimed they knocked and announced their presence before entering the home, neighbors have disputed those claims, according to the lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family. The Louisville judge who signed the warrant approved a "no-knock" provision.

The search of her apartment also turned up no illegal substances, though her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, is facing criminal charges after he allegedly shot a police officer during the execution of the warrant.

On Friday, protesters gathered in the Mid-City Mall parking lot before the drive to Fischer's house said they wanted action to follow the investigations.

Christian Brawner said he wants the officers involved to be fired, their pensions stripped and the investigation to be turned over for review by an independent, civilian-led commission.

“The police murdered Breonna Taylor and there should be justice for that,” he said.

Nearly all of the protesters who joined the action on Friday were white. Greg Tichenor said that’s a key to facilitating change.

“Once your eyes are opened I think it’s critical for white folks to get out and push for change,” he said. “It’s going to take enough white people speaking out about it to make a difference in today’s world, is my opinion.”

Tichenor said Fischer’s “heart is in the right place,” and protests can help push him to take more action.

“I know politicians get caught on that fence of not wanting to offend one side or another,” he said.

Fischerposted a video online Friday afternoon expressing remorse for Taylor’s death. And he stressed his desire to see the investigations unfold before taking any action.

“The most critical issue to me is facts get out. The truth gets out and justice follows,” he said in the video.

It’s unclear if Fischer heard Friday’s protest. As citizens drove by, the mayor was queued in to his virtual meeting, and no one came to the door when a reporter rang the bell.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.